|Birth: ||Nov. 23, 1923|
South Dakota, USA
|Death: ||Jul. 24, 2012|
South Dakota, USA
Glen N. Danielson, 88 of Vermillion, South Dakota passed away Tuesday July 24, 2012 at Sanford Vermillion Hospital. Glen was born November 23, 1923 to J. Godfrey and Beda (Norman) Danielson.
He married Catherine O'Connor in 1949, beginning an adventure in living and working all around much of the world.
After graduation from the teacher's preparatory program at the University of South Dakota (USD), University High in 1941, Glen took off for Wichita, Kansas to work on Beechcraft Staggerwings. In November, 1942 he was inducted into the U.S. Navy.
He was a pioneer in both the steam cleaner and electronics worlds. After Navy south Pacific seaplane service in World War II in 1946, he hit the road selling Beresford's Sioux Steam cleaners with his brother in law, Harry Jensen.
After attempting to farm the family's Clay County homestead with his parents, Catherine insisted Glen return to the University of South Dakota (USD), graduating in 1953 with a BS degree in Applied Sciences of Engineering.
The USD engineering degree opened doors wide for the creative depression era farm kid.
The new world of electronics took Glen, Catherine and their growing family to top secret projects in many industrial centers of Cold War America until 1965. Only in recent years, did the strong willed father of eight begin to fill in the work history blanks.
As his memory would let him, he began to open up so we as a family could see the creative man who could keep secrets. Big secrets were kept. Projects Americans now take for granted or wonder how it was done, were done by people like Glen Danielson.
Starting fresh out of USD, Glen worked on the first Magnavox color televisions in Fort Wayne, IN. When issues developed following a company work stoppage, Glen began working the man who invented television, Philo Farnsworth in his Fort Wayne "the cave" design lab working on color television.
While at Magnavox, Glen formed a friendship and almost 60 year bond with a fellow designer, James (Jim) Blake. By late 1955, Jim introduced Glen to contract engineering, or as known in the 1950's electronics world, being a "Job Shopper".
Job shoppers were a group of 1,500 to 2,000 individuals who sold their engineering and design skills to companies needing skilled, temporary assistance to complete a technical project.
Glen sold his skills on a contract, in 1,000 hour blocks of engineering time plus daily per diem. The average contractor performed 2 of these blocks per year. Once he started working on these contracts, he realized he could perform more than three of these contracts per year. The family began a life on the road following Dad.
Glen's USD diploma gave him the ability to work on all aspects of 1950's high technology. Electrical, mechanical, physical and space were areas Glen had fascination with and the education to allow him to pursue it.
The Dakota farm kid was often brought into projects to meld the highly theoretical concepts with the product floor worker's ability. His question was "How do we make this thing work" was his proficiency.
Once Jim introduced him to Goodyear Aeronautics, Glen was able to take the dreams of a kid sitting up on the windmill pretending to be flying behind a propeller to actually working in avionics.
His boyhood dream of flying now consumed his life.
1956 brought a move to Crystal, Minnesota to work at Honeywell Corporation's Minneapolis Snelling plant designing test equipment and protocols.
By 1957 Glen and Jim were in Detroit, Michigan working on the Werner Von Braun led Jupiter-Redstone rocket project at Chrysler Corporation's Aerospace division.
The project led to the January 31, 1958 launch of Explorer 1 became the USA's first satellite in space.
By 1958 Glen had moved his family using the newly acquired 1948 GMC semi-truck to the Milwaukee, WI area to work on the X-15 experimental high-speed rocket-powered research aircraft. The X-15 was designed to be carried aloft, under the wing of a special B-52 mother ship. Glen's skill was used to make the mechanical function, with the electrical, as part of the ‘hook and release' design team so the X-15 could safely be sent to the edge of space.
The winter of 1959-60 was one of the worst recorded Milwaukee winter lake effect snow years in recorded history, with snow drifts overtaking the family's single story house.
A call from Cape Canaveral, Florida saved the family from the snow and took Glen to space. The GMC was quickly loaded with the household goods and the family was in Orlando within days.
Glen recounted the story this way. When he arrived at the Cape, as usual he knew nothing about why he was there, until he had to absolutely neede to know why he was there. He met up with a past fellow engineer systems analyst, Charles "Chuck" Geeting in a director's office. Once paperwork was signed, acknowledgements were made to the effect they were never to have another job in the future at the Cape, they were escorted up steps down a long hot hallway to a room the size of a two car garage.
Around the walls the room were stacks of paper and a table with chairs in the middle. Once their escorts left them, Chuck turned to Glen and asked "what do we do now?" Glen responded "I guess we should see what's in the stacks".
At this point they began to see their job was to compare the stacks containing all the USA space launch success and failures since WWII and construct the launch sequence for the soon to be Mercury space flights.
The men were not to have any interaction with the rest of the Cape, except under controlled circumstances, so their decisions could not be unduly influenced. Once the four month project was completed and the results presented to Werner Von Braun, Glen and Catherine moved the family back to Crystal, MN.
Glen purchased a big 1958 Lincoln with enough seat space for his now sizable family of 7 and basset hound Cleo.
While Catherine was driving behind Glen, the car was destroyed on a narrow rain soaked bridge outside of Union City, Tennessee. To keep the time sensitive Honeywell contract, Glen made arrangements for the family to stay for a few days in Union City so he could show up for work on time.
Catherine's brother, Willard, drove from Vermillion to get the family. He picked up their sister, Letia in Omaha and collected the brood and returned them to South Dakota to heal.
With the family in Crystal by fall 1960, Glen used the airport across the road to keep his single engine Stinson Station Wagon airplane.
The airplane allowed him to air commute to Colorado for a Martin Corporation contract.
The summer of 1962, Glen was offered a contract at the Grumman Corporation, Calverton assembly plant on Long Island, New York. His ability to design complex wiring systems to control devices was put to work on the A6A Intruder Navy jet.
Glen's desire to farm again was so strong, he convinced Catherine to load up the family and move to South Dakota for the summer of 1963, to once again try working with his father on the farm. It didn't work.
By November with the crops out of the fields, Glen had another contract with Grumman. So back to Long Island the family went.
The Grumman management gave Glen a job, following an A6A water crash landing near our home, the job of final systems inspector.
The only Grumman private contractor to be given this assignment, the air worthiness certificate job was required before the new jet was allowed to fly.
In the summer of 1964 the family returned to South Dakota to empty the rented farmhouse back into the semi-trailer. While back in Vermillion, Glen met with the owners of a new steam cleaner startup James Manufacturing, Calvin Braastad and Jim Jensen.
He was intrigued. On the return to New York, the family stopped in Butler Ohio, to buy the first RV, a unique crank up camper, the Hi-Lo.
In January 1965, during the negotiations for the next contract, Grumman asked Glen to the corporate offices in Bethpage NY.
There he was asked to head the NASA Apollo Lunar Module project intended for the 1969 moon landing. He had no desire to work in the congested Bethpage area for what he considered a pay cut.
The call of steam cleaners in South Dakota was more interesting. So the family's GMC made the last move to Alcester, SD.
James Manufacturing had moved into a building in Alcester, once housing a failed steam cleaner factory, Alcester Manufacturing. Glen did not like steam cleaners as they were then being built and sold.
He saw the new pressure pumps being introduced at the time. He started designing the first real combination of heated water pushed by pressurized cold water. The first modern heated pressure washer.
He was hooked on this idea and design and taking his first ‘missionary' road trip to Canada to preach the story of heated pressure washers.
The management arrangement and the accumulated debts of James Manufacturing caused the business to fail by September 1965. Glen and Cal, not having anything else to do by this point, walked into Glen's house, sat down at the dining room table and began planning a new business.
The business they formed was called Traction Boosters, Inc. The company took on a project to build an automotive traction aid. This was a pair a of cleated disks a user would temporarily attach to the drive wheels of vehicle to assist in getting ‘unstuck' from snow or mud.
Glen's knowledge of metals, tooling and stress, matched with Cal's blacksmithing background made them a team to do anything. John Vust's Traction Magic gave them the ability to keep experimenting through the winter of 1965 to build the marketing for pressure washers and steam cleaners.
Regaining the Alcester Manufacturing / James Manufacturing building in Alcester in 1966, allowed full production of the new Alkota pressure washers and steam cleaners to resume.
By fall of 1967, the reputation of Alkota brand equipment had spread to Europe. An export agent in New York, Henry Jahn, began to spread the new cleaning equipment concepts to the globe.
3 men from France arrived in the Alcester offices to talk about building equipment for sale in Europe. The men had been spurned by the owner of Slifer Manufacturing (now Hotsy) in Humboldt, IA. Their next stop was Alcester. Glen was instantly intrigued and an order for 2 custom steam cleaners and 1 pressure washer was sent to France for evaluation.
This small order turned into a 16 year business arrangement with Suroil of Paris France. This association earned the little company in South Dakota, the Presidential ‘E' Award for exporting presented in Washington, DC during 1971.
The European pressure washer industry was born in Alcester and now has millions of followers throughout the world.
Traction Boosters, Inc. became Alkota Manufacturing in 1973.
Glen and the crew of Alkota continued to innovate and grow the business to the point; another factory addition was required in 1973 to meet the growing demand.
Glen returned to his love of flight in 1975 with his purchase of the 1967 Mooney Executive single plane. This plane allowed him to fly the skies of North America spreading the word of Alkota. By 1979, the plane was traded up to a Mooney 201 he continued to fly until 1984.
He and Catherine also drove the highways of North America with their motorhomes, often towing a demonstration trailer.
This allowed them to continue their love of the open road and their insatiable appetites for adventures. The need for open dialogue with international customers, Glen and Catherine included many trips to Europe and South America to their passports.
By 1981, Glen was named South Dakota's SBA Small Businessman of the year. Their trip to the presidential award ceremony was marred by President Ronald Reagan being shot. Vice President George HW Bush presented the award, much to Glen's disappointment.
In 1983, the manufacturing assets of Alkota Manufacturing were sold to the group of former Electro Magic managers who formed a new company called Alkota Cleaning Systems, Inc.
Retirement did not suit Glen. With the move from Alcester back to the Clay County homestead done, he still dreamed of the perfect heating coil and other unfulfilled ideas.
In 1984 a building was purchased in nearby Beresford to tweak his ideas with the assistance again of Catherine.
Family members would come and go through the years to help but his son Dan was with him every day working to make the dreams reality. The team of Glen, Catherine and Dan always strived for simplicity and efficiency of form and function.
Glen and Dan perfected the first actual 90+ percent efficient heat transfer coil he kept trying to accomplish while at Alkota.
Between Dan and Glen the reliability and efficiency of cleaning concrete and other hard surfaces was finally accomplished with the Turbo Twister.
•Simplified, strong designs
American Made Cleaners, Inc. moved to larger Beresford quarters in 1985. This allowed them to continue in a larger space to try new ideas.
In March, 2010 the main factory build was destroyed in a fire caused by a parked Ford pickup.
Glen and Catherine retired to the farmstead his Swedish grandparents had claimed, then settled on in 1868. There he was content to mow his large lawn, work the garden, walk about the place and enjoy life with the love of his life, Catherine.
Glen is survived by his wife Catherine, two sons, Dan and Bruce of Sioux Falls, his daughters, Jean (Louis) Cowherd of Rapid City, Carol Iverson of Omaha, NE, Sharon (Jeff) Kidder Scottsdale, AZ, Kay (Mark) Hall of Lincoln, NE, Terese Danielson of Sioux Falls; Son-in-law, Kenn Sorlie of Sioux Falls, 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his daughter Annette Sorlie, brother Dean and sisters Doris Swanson and Helen Jensen.
Upon being invited to his graduation, Glen's parents were the first audience members to show up.
at Trinity Lutheran Church 816 East Clark Street Vermillion South Dakota 57069
Visitation with video tribute will begin at 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., Saturday, July 28, 2012 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion.
at Trinity Lutheran Church 816 East Clark Street Vermillion South Dakota 57069 (map/driving directions)
Service will begin at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, July 28, 2012 with Pastor Rachel Ringlaben officiating
Burial of ashes will be at a later date.
Birth Year: abt 1924
Birthplace: South Dakota
Home in 1930: Prairie Center, Clay, South Dakota
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father's Name: Gottfred Danielson
Father's Birthplace: South Dakota
Mother's Name: Beda Danielson
Mother's Birthplace: Sweden
Gottfred Danielson 44
Beda Danielson 41
Doris Danielson 12
Helen Danielson 11
Glen Danielson 6
Arvid Lind 41
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.
Specifically: no mention of burial in obituary
Created by: Ellen Bishop
Record added: Aug 15, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 95388559