We talked about many things, a decade ago, when I interviewed Richard “Dick” Young for my column. He took me all the way back to the 1940s telling what some people did to avoid the draft during World War II. Dick, however, was one who willingly served his country.
“I stood straight and tall and let them look me over,” he told me that day. “I decided if I had to go, I might as well look alive.”
Dick was 89 when I visited him in his Grand Forks home in 2008. He went on to his eternal home in 2013.
There are many things one could say about the life and times of Dick Young, who along with his brother, Roland Young, founded Young Brothers Machine Works in Grand Forks in 1947. Today we know that company as Young Manufacturing, Inc.
First and foremost Dick was a Godly man. He was husband, father, soldier, grandfather, tool and die maker, businessman, organist, pianist, singer, a member of Gideon’s International and a long serving board member of Child Evangelism Fellowship.
And somewhere in the midst of it all, he found time to write. Dick was an avid and prolific writer.
He filled notebooks with stories about his military service, and throughout his entire life he penned poetry and wrote extensively about his family, his business and his Christian faith. He sincerely hoped that one day his stories would be in a book.
Dick dreamed of it and daughter, Judy McNamee, Grand Forks, made it happen. The book, “A Soldier Muses – Ponderings of World War II,” recently rolled off the press.
“It’s hard to know just what Dad would say if he were to hold and read the book about his life,” Judy said. “He was such a compassionate man. He had a tender heart. I think he probably would have been too choked up to speak and there would have been tears in his eyes.”
Judy typed all of her father’s WWII stories from his handwritten pages and after his death the family found what Judy describes as a “treasure trove,” of additional writings which are included in the book. Photos were found, a proof reader was secured and the book project was launched.
Dick’s family moved to Grand Forks in 1936 from Anoka, Minn. After high school, he was working in Moorhead when he met his future bride, DeLoris. They were married in 1941, just 42 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Besides daughter Judy, Dick’s and DeLoris’ two sons are Dick Jr., and David. DeLoris passed away in 2004.
Military duty took Dick to Europe during WWII and to Korea during the Korean Conflict. Those stories make up the first half of the book.
Among the titles: “Foreign Soil – Combat Zone,” “They Made it Out – Tank Mine Hit,” “Pershing Tanks,” “House-To-House Search,” “Moving Into Germany,” “Muzzle Blast From a Main Gun,” “Heil Hitler,” “Ambush,” “Tranquility in a German Horse Barn,” “Autobahn,” “On Guard with Hand Grenades,” “Crossing the Rhine River,” “Best Ever Toasted Cheese Sandwich,” and the beautiful title, “Leaving Europe – Returning Home.”
Dick penned the following upon his return to America: “Seeing the skyline of New York to many of us was a very emotional experience. As I recall, entering the harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty so gripped me that I was unable to speak. My throat actually hurt from emotion. Perhaps many of us were thanking the Lord for deliverance from the war zone.”
The second half of the book contains other writings by Dick – wonderful poetry and beautifully penned greetings he wrote to others at Christmastime and other milestones he and DeLoris reached in their life together.
Here’s a verse Dick wrote on a significant birthday:
Turning ninety-one is really kind of fun
You can just sit back and watch the work get done
Everybody pitches in and does his little bit
Hoping what he adds will somehow make a hit
The book also includes stories Dick wrote about falling in love with the properties of metal and his fierce love of trains. In fact, if you visit Young Manufacturing, Inc., now owned by Dick’s son, David, you will see the first engine pieces and tracks Dick made as teen.
Dick’s Christian faith was vitally important to him. As a Gideon with Gideon’s International, he placed Bibles in hotels and other places. He also was a long-time board member of Child Evangelism Fellowship, whose purpose is to make the Gospel known to children who might not hear it because their parents are not church goers.
“A Soldier Muses – Ponderings of World War II,” can be purchased for $14.99 online at: amazon.com. It also can be checked out from the Campbell Library in East Grand Forks and the Grand Forks Public Library.
If you had not the pleasure of meeting Dick Young, I believe you will know him well after reading his book.