Stanley Melvin Riedel
July 19, 1927 - March 4, 2018
ROWAN, IOWA - Stanley Melvin Riedel, dazzling entrepreneur, stunt legend, proud American, and the Energizer Bunny’s role model, passed away on Sunday March 4, 2018.
Visitation will be 4-7 PM on Friday, March 9th at the Ewing Funeral Home in Belmond. Celebration of his life will be at 2 PM in the Dows Community Center with Pastor Mark Peterson from Immanuel Lutheran Church officiating.
He was born in Burt, Iowa on July 19, 1927 and was the youngest child of Martha and Walt Riedel. His mother adored him and called him “HON”. His dad taught him how to think outside the box and to be a life long learner.
He graduated from Burt High in 1945 as the Salutatorian of his class… of two students. After graduating from high school he wanted to enlist in the Army, but his wise father told him he would less likely be shot at if he joined the Navy. During WWII he served as a fire fighter first class in the Navy. He was proud of his service and participated in the Rowan Legion’s color guard numerous times. Stan was the guest speaker at Rowan’s Memorial Day service telling stories how he taught himself how to play the harmonica on the ship and that he bought candy bars while on shore to sell later when he got back on the ship! A military highlight of Stan’s life happened in August, 2012 when he joined 135 other veterans on the eighth (and final) Honor Flight out of Mason City.
Stan met the girl of his dreams when he went along with his friend to visit his friend’s girlfriend and her roommate. The roommate caught Stan’s eye and even though she had a date with another guy that evening, slick talking Stan persuaded her to go out with him instead. Thus began the courtship and marriage of Selma Behnkendorf and Stanley Riedel. On March 14, 2018 these two life-long companions would have celebrated 70 years of marriage. This couple blossomed into a family of four children, 11 grandkids, 15 great grandkids, and 3 great, great grandkids.
Stan’s career was full of variety. He started out with a small fleet of dump trucks in Luverne while tending the cemetery grounds on the side. Neither jobs satisfied his role as breadwinner, so he paid $75 for a stock car and began racing at the Kossuth County Track in Algona and the Wright County Speedway near Rowan. He earned the 1955 track championship at the Wright County Speedway. It was this win, along with his strong work ethic, that enticed him into buying the track and turning it into a moneymaker. He also bought the local Standard Station as his back-up plan. It was then (in 1960) that the Riedel family moved to Rowan and Stan has lived there ever since. During the 1960s (along with operating the race track & owning the gas station), Stan promoted country singer shows with performers such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, Dottie West, and several other well-known musicians. He also promoted professional wrestling performances that included Mr. M, Bob Geigel, Bull Dog Bob Brown, and other well-established wrestlers. After filling the race track’s hillside with race fans for many seasons, along with the numerous days of painting and repairing cars at his station, he decided to switch careers. He and his friend Chuck Sellars began to harvest walnut trees and take the logs to the Dubuque sawmill. After the ol’ boom-truck had seen better days, Stan realized the time had come to start a new business: Riedel Truck Sales. He became a buyer of used, abused, and wrecked trucks, which he then turned into masterpieces thanks to his talented and dedicated employees Ronnie Davis and Rich Meier. His philosophy was buy low, fix ‘em up, and sell them for a reasonable profit. Stan spent over fifty years building up his truck empire and establishing a name for himself in the truck world- nationally and internationally. Many customers referred to him as “Stan the Man”. During the early years of his truck business he supplemented his income by buying six little Model-T cars. Stan and his kids became true “Carnies” as they sold rides in these miniature model T cars at area celebrations as well as the state fair for several years.
Stan worked hard and he played hard. He was a true showman and loved entertaining the crowds. He got his first taste of hearing the roar of the crowd when he won his first bicycle race at the Kossuth County Track at age ten…and won $18.75. Racing and performing were in his blood. He entered and won the first truck race held at the Iowa State Fair. Afterwards, Stan decided he could create his own traveling truck racing company and called it “Three Stars Production”. The entire family worked together as Selma sold tickets, daughter Marcia announced, and the guys (Stan, his three sons –David, Steven, and Larry, and son-in-law Randy Burt) raced semi trucks at various tracks in Iowa and Minnesota. The truck races took Stan to places such as Pocono Speedway, New York, New Jersey, Canada, and Mexico. Even though the truck races were fun, Stan thought it was time to add a twist to his performances by racing school buses. His favorite nights of racing were when all his family (Dave, Steve, Marcia, Larry, Randy, and himself) raced their six buses against each other at Fairmont (MN), Algona, and Mason City tracks.
Adding more spice to his performances Stan began to do stunts. Sometimes he slid through 50 yards of flames as he was being pulled behind a race truck. Other times he was sitting in a rocking chair on top of a car while jumping a ramp at the Wright County Raceway. But he is most famous for his bus jumps. Stan currently holds the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most cars successfully jumped by a bus (eight cars—but Stan could have easily made ten cars). In 2010 Stan received an award at Las Vegas for being the Oldest Stunt Man. His last bus jump was when he was 82 years young.
Stan devoured sweet treats (especially cookies) and ice cream; but he never did find a green bean he liked. He was especially fond of dogs. Stan became Rowan’s very own dog rescue league as he saved many, many dogs throughout his lifetime. His most memorable dog was Luther- Stan’s famous sidekick who rode along with him in all his bus jumps. Stan was a true believer in an honest handshake. His work ethic drove younger guys into the ground. And if you happened to challenge him or raise his temper, be prepared to be “Stanley-ed”. He took fashion cues from no one, as his attire was always colorful and unmatched. His wild outfits were soon dubbed “Stanley Outfits”. He enjoyed playing Dirty Bingo at the family Christmas celebrations and took pleasure in watching his family members bid against one another for the personal items he and Selma donated to the family’s “Memory Auction”. Stan loved Nascar races- whether at the actual track or watching it at home on TV. He was elated whenever his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, won the race.
Stan attended many truck and equipment auctions throughout his career, but after he retired he still relished the thrill of having the winning bid. After his retirement, he attended many estate and household auctions and was tickled when many inexpensive household items, knick-knacks, stuffed animals, and other such fun items made their way home with him. He loved to share these prize possessions with grandkids, the residents at the Care Center, and children at area celebrations.
Stan had a zest for life, a great smile (if he had his dentures in), and a pep-in-his-step. A great work ethic was important to Stan- which he displayed on a daily basis. His favorite piece of advice to share with others was “You can catch more flies with honey that you can with vinegar.” Stan’s life was very fulfilling and he delighted in the fact that he reached the age of 90. He encouraged others to go out and live their lives to the fullest- because you only get to live it once.
Those left behind to reminisce and cherish Stan’s many memories and antics are his wife Selma, his daughter Marcia Burt (Randy), his son Larry Riedel (Donna), and his daughter-in-law Barbara Riedel. His grandkids: Tracy Dorr, Jaclyn Wessels (Jason), Emily Bailey (Donald), Joshua Riedel (Tiffani), Tonya Dockwell, Clinton Riedel, Amanda McConnell, Joslyn Stock (Adam), Derek Burt (Jill), Ellie Riedel, and Megan Riedel. His great grandkids: Kaitlyn, Madison, Tristan, Jackson, Kristin, Addilyn, Joshua, Brianna, Emma, Morgan, Jayden, Ashton, Elias, Gabriel, and Alexis. His great, great grandkids: Gage, Garrett, and Graycen.
Those welcoming Stan at the Pearly Gates are his parents, his three siblings (Lawrence, Marjorie, and Laura), his two sons (David and Steven), his daughter-in-law (Lois Riedel), and his grandson-in-law (Timothy Dorr).