By Jen Bakken
Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964.
A 13-year-old boy in Iowa was sitting in front of the television anxiously awaiting The Ed Sullivan show.
The Beatles took the stage, played five songs, and captivated audiences across America. It was the beginning of Beatlemania, and the beginning of that young boy’s passion for music.
“It changed my life. The Beatles came on and I looked at my mom and said, ‘Wow!’” remembered Dave Lady. “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen. I’m going to get a guitar, I’m going to learn how to play. And that is exactly what I did.”
So, how did this boy from Iowa, who jumped head-first into playing the guitar during Beatlemania in 1964, end up in Delano receiving the Minneapolis Aquatennial Commodore Award 44 years later?
If you were to ask Lady himself, he would tell you it all goes along with being a people person.
“I lost my dad when I was 9 years old car accident. I lost my mother when I was 23 years old car accident, and I was an only child,” he said. “I think it made me seek out people, be a people person and a joiner I’ve been that way since I was a kid.”
After graduating from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with a degree in accounting, the first job he took was with a CPA firm in Iowa, but he decided this wasn’t quite what he wanted.
Because he was looking to stay around his home area in Iowa and play in a rock band with his cousin, he ended up taking a job in banking, and has stayed in the industry ever since.
“Most of us in the world have to work to make a living, but if the world were ideal, we would do what we are passionate about, and music is my passion,” Lady admitted. “Not that I don’t like banking, but if the world were ideal, I never would have been anything other than a musician.”
Truth be told, Lady has been much more than a musician with a day job over the years.
In 1976, he married his wife, Melanie, and the couple welcomed three children, Amy, Mike, and Jayne, into their lives.
They lived in Litchfield, where he was involved in the Lions, Rotary, and school sports and activities with his children. Eventually, they made Delano their home, in 1993.
After nine years as vice president at the State Bank of Delano, Lady moved to the same position at Highland Bank, formerly Ridgedale Bank, nearly two years ago.
During his 15 years in Delano, Lady continued to be involved with the community through the Jaycees, Dollars for Scholars, the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce, Delano Family Council, and the Fourth of July Celebration Committee.
Various school committees and church boards are also on his extensive list of community involvement, and he proves that he is just what he classifies himself as a people person and a joiner.
However, throughout it all, banking, marriage, fatherhood ,and community involvement music has remained his passion.
Lady has enjoyed performing with three local women in the Methodist Church Guitar Group, and recently reunited with a band he was a member of in Iowa years ago.
Back in 1967, a group of men, including Lady on lead guitar, started the band Traidmarx. They played together four years, eventually going their separate ways.
When the band was inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they performed for the event, and have been back together for seven years now.
“We have a horn section, and we sound a bit like the band, Chicago. I call it blue-eyed soul music,” Lady said. “And, when you are playing in a band with guys that are your friends, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Lady remembers being a 7-year-old and running the battery down in his dad’s car by listening to the radio.
Music has clearly always put a smile on his face, but his smile was also visible when he was announced as the Minneapolis Aquatennial Honorary Commodore Award recipient at this year’s Delano Royalty Organization coronation.
“It was a big shock to me, I had no idea,” he said. “I was sitting there with my family (at the coronation) and before announcing the name, they started reading off a list of things, and I thought, ‘oh, wait a minute, they are talking about me!’”
Lady felt honored to be recognized, but for him, it has never been about getting a pat on the back. He does what he does for the good of the cause because he enjoys it.
Each year, a member of the Delano community is presented with the Minneapolis Aquatennial Honorary Commodore Award.
The award is presented to an individual, nominated by the community, who has demonstrated the spirit of volunteerism and involvement within their community.
Spirit is something Lady has for the community, volunteerism, music, and life in general.
“Your attitude is a big deal,” he said. “I’ve always tried to be positive about things. I think it really does pay off and helps a person in their life.”
Being recognized for his contributions with a framed certificate and a medal while standing in front of his family, friends, and community is something he will cherish.
“This could have gone to a number of people,” he said. “But, for some reason, they chose me. I feel honored. It makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside.”