Donald S. Dresser
Sept. 7, 1932 - Aug. 18, 2017
Donald Stanley Dresser, 84, of Dilworth, MN, passed away on August 18, 2017, at Lilac Assisted Living in Moorhead.
Don was born in Bertha, MN on September 7, 1932 to Walter and Clara Rieman Dresser. He grew up in New York Mills, MN where he graduated from high school in 1950. He continued his education at Moorhead State University for one year, mostly because his dad had said it would be good for him. But by the time spring quarter rolled around, Don decided not to return to college.
He had a good job back home in New York Mills where he got 75 cents an hour to examine eggs for freshness - a job in which his fiancée Eldora Hentila didn’t see a bright future. It didn’t take much encouragement from Eldora to persuade Don to quit his job and move to Minneapolis where she had an office position with Munsingwear. With $80 in his pocket which was his entire life savings, he announced to his parents that he was going to radio school.
Don and Eldora were married on June 23, 1956 while Don was still a student at what was then the American Institute of the Air now Brown Institute. Don and Eldora drove all the way to Yellowstone National Park for their honeymoon, only to have Don tell Eldora they needed to be back in Wadena by Thursday because he planned to play his trumpet in a band concert.
After he graduated from the Institute, Don got a job at KTRF Radio in Thief River Falls, MN. His first day was October 4, 1956; his salary: $65 a week. The Dressers had four good years in Thief River Falls when an opening at WDAY Radio in Fargo prompted Don, who listened to that station as a youngster, to produce an audition tape. That tape proved to be a huge door-opener, as Don took his place at WDAY with personalities like Dewey Bergquist and Morrie Carlson, Howard Campbell and Ken Kennedy. At first, he worked a late shift, coming in after Bergquist at 4 p.m. But only a few months later Don was assigned a morning shift with Carlson where they created the first two-voice show in the Fargo area.
While some believed that with its variety and comedy format television would wipe out radio altogether, the radio duo became one of the most popular shows in the area with music, news, weather and talk.
The offers came in for both Don and Morrie based on their popularity, and, while Morrie moved on to a bigger market, Don turned down offers to move to St. Louis, Kansas City and Phoenix. He and Eldora wanted stability for their young family and Don liked working a five-day week, something which is unusual in radio.
That stability was a positive, even though it meant that Don started his days at 3:15 a.m. He enjoyed working with other partners over the years, including Earl Williams, Boyd Christenson and Orly Knutson. And listeners up and down the Red River Valley enjoyed Don. Ratings, letters, phone calls all revealed that listeners liked his quick wit, his entertaining way of sharing a morning, and his ability to deliver a story or commercial convincingly.
Don especially enjoyed conducting remote broadcasts at the Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag and the Red River Valley and other county fairs because he loved meeting people and being with the responsive audiences.
Don retired from radio in 1994 and spent his retirement talking with people all over the U.S. thanks to his ham radio hobby, cheering for the NDSU football and basketball teams, enjoying special time with his numerous coffee crews, but most especially just being with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at their family lake home at Big McDonald Lake near Dent, MN.
In 2002 Don was inducted into the Minnesota Radio Hall of Fame.
Don is survived by his wife, Eldora; daughter Cary Verdi, and sons Craig Lisa, Barry Stephanie, all of Fargo, and Brian, Moorhead; his brother Gerald Geraldine of Perham, MN; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Jim and Rosie Clemenson of Vergas, MN; brother-in-law Elton Hentila of New York Mills, MN; eight grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Visitation: 5-7 pm Tuesday, August 22 followed by a prayer service at 7 pm at Dilworth Lutheran Church.
Memorial Service: 1 pm Wednesday, August 23 at Dilworth Lutheran Church.