Donald Charles VODDEN 

*17 Jul 1918 - †23 Jan 2012


a) Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, Inc.
999 Main Street, Sturgis, South Dakota, USA 57785
September 3, 2006


Hall of Fame Inductee - 2003

Don Vodden is a Charter Member of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and was competitor in the 1938 motorcycle race, the first Sturgis race that was to become the humble beginnings of the Sturgis MotorcycleRally.

Born and raised in Sturgis, Don became interested in motorcycles in high school in the 30's. To support his hobby, Don held three jobs. He purchased his first motorcycle, a 1918 Harley-Davidson JD, when he was15.

In 1937 Don became a member of the Jackpine Gypsies. The Gypsies did most of the leg-work in making the first AMA sanctioned races a success. Don helped the ladies serve lunch and raced in the Saturday and Sunday half mile races.

A successful boxer (1939 Middleweight SD State Golden Gloves Champion), Don turned professional and began fighting in boxing matches in theDakotas, Wyoming and Montana. In May of 1939, after winning his matchat Deadwood, Vodden rode all night to compete in the Island Grove Park Speed Classic. Vodden won his heat race, placed third in the time trials and took home a $65.00 purse.

Don Vodden joined the US Army, a career choice that he enjoyed until his retirement in 1962. While in the Army, Don gave a pep talk to a young officer languishing in a military hospital in Michigan. The young officer went home to Kansas and became Senator Bob Dole and the 1996 presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

During his career Don always tired to make it home to Sturgis for theRally and since his retirement he has attended the Rally every year.

Rick Vodden - Eulogy on FaceBook Feb 6, 2012
Sadly, I know I should post for any of you who knew him, my uncle Don Vodden passed away at the end of January, he was born in 07-17-1918. My younger brother was named after him and he was a wonderfully smart, warm caring person who helped to shape my life. Right up until the last time I spoke with him a few months back, he still called me honey. He looked so much like my dad, sounded like my dad and as long as I could talk to him every now and then, my dad still seemed to be alive. He is famous for being one of the original founders of the famous Sturgis rally and there is a lot of information on the web about him. Rest in peace uncle, you were one of the best this world had to offer, I will forever miss your laughter.

Donald C. Vodden 93, of South Dakota: Newspaper Obituary and Death Notice

St. James Leader Journal (MO) - January 25, 2012

Deceased Name: Donald C. Vodden 93, of South Dakota

Master Sgt. Ret. Donald C. Vodden, 93, the last living Charter Member of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club in Sturgis, S.D. rode his Indian into the sunset for the last time on Jan. 21 at the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James.
Born July 17, 1918 to Myrtle and George Vodden in Sturgis, S.D., Don worked as a young child delivering the Denver Post and doing odd jobs to help support his family of nine. Later, he cut ice for Hoel Ice Service.
In the mid 1930s, Don raced motorcycles, racing in the first "Rally" in Sturgis, in 1938. Don was also a professional prize fighter, winning the South Dakota middle weight championship in the early 1940s.
Don joined the Army Air Corps before WWII, later choosing the Army.
Don fought during WWII, in the Pacific front and served in the Korean War. He retired at Ft. Hood, Texas in 1962.
Don married fellow motorcycle enthusiast Joan Cruickshank in 1943. They raised two daughters: Janet and Donna. while moving many times, choosing to settle in Harker Heights, Texas upon retirement.
Don and Joan built and managed Don's Rentals for years.
Don married Martha Nell Lewis in 1978. They loved to travel in their motor home and continued running Don's Rentals.
Don was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, S.D. in 2003, which is something he was very proud of. Don only missed five Rallies in his lifetime, three while stationed in Germany. Don last attended the Rally in 2010 at the age of 92!
Don was a lifetime member of the DAV, VFW, American Legion, the Over The Hill Gang Motorcycle Club, the White Plate Flat Trackers Association, Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and was a Master Mason.
Don is survived by his wife: Martha Vodden of Eldon, Mo.; daughters: Janet Rother and husband Kenneth of San Antonio, Texas and Donna Eliott and husband Larry of Bigfoot, Texas; grandson: John Brennon Duncan and fiance Kimberly Rose of San Antonio, Texas; and great granddaughter: Brynn Avery Duncan of Giddings, Texas; sister: Marion Mellow of Pismo Beach, CA.; and numerous cousings, nieces and nephews.
He is also survived by step childrern: Wanda and Kenneth Clark of Jarrell, Texas; Robert and Loretta Lewis of Harker Heights, Texas.; and Cathy and George Golden of Eldon, Mo., as well as several step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, brothers: George, Duane and Wallace; sister: Lucille and Juanita and his first wife: Joan Cruickshank Carlson.
Following cremation, Don will be buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, S.D. in the summer of 2012.
Memorials may be sent to Missouri Veteran's Home, 620 N. Jefferson St., St. James, Mo.
65559 or the Eldon Senior Citizens Center; Eldon, Mo. 65026. The family asks you to remember all US Veterans.
All arrangements are under the direction of the Jones Funeral Home in St. James.
Page: 5
Copyright 2012 St. James Leader Journal. All Rights Reserved.

Donald C. Vodden: Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Death Record
Name:«tab»Donald C. Vodden
State of Issue: «tab»South Dakota
Date of Birth:«tab»Wednesday July 17, 1918
Date of Death:«tab»Monday January 23, 2012
Est. Age at Death:«tab»93 years, 6 months, 6 days
Confirmation: «tab»Verified access Mar 30, 2012