Branch: U. S. Navy
Rank: Fireman 2c
Status: Honorable D/C
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Bagley
Don and Bea Ricke
Donald William Ricke was born October 27, 1927 in Clearwater County, Minnesota to parents William H. and Lucille Pond Ricke. William and Lucille owned a farm in Popple Township and William was the proprietor of a blacksmith shop. Donald had three brothers and one sister: James, Richard, Edward and Patricia. Don worked on the family farm and attended school.
Don joined the Navy on February 13, 1945 before he even turned 18 years old. After boot camp he was sent to Casco Bay, Portland, Maine for more schooling before being ordered to duty aboard the USS Dale W Peterson, DE-337.
The Peterson was a destroyer escort named for a hero of the Battle of the Coral Sea. It was newly launched in December of 1943 and was escorting convoys between New York, the UK and France.
Don arrived on board as a Fireman 1st class (E-3) on May 2, 1945 from the Naval Receiving Station, Casco Bay. The ship left Boston harbor for Europe on his first voyage. Near the end of June the Peterson sailed from New York To Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for training, then on to San Diego on August 1st. The ship left San Diego and then sailed on to Pearl Harbor, arriving shortly before the war ended. On the day of the signing of the surrender, the Peterson was ordered to return to the East Coast where she was placed on reserve. F1c Ricke had been promoted to Fireman 2nd class the day before. Don was released to Naval Receiving Station #128 on Oahu for reassignment.
Don was released from the Navy on July 10, 1946 but being over age 18 now he still had to register for the draft on July 12, 1946 to comply with the law.
Don married Beatrice (Bea) Monteith Ricke in 1948 and they had three children, Debra, David and Mary.
After Don received his engineering degree from North Dakota State University, he took a job as a mechanical design engineer for General Electric in New York. In 1956 he moved back to Minnesota to work at Honeywell as an aeronautical engineer developing guidance systems for NASA’s pre-Apollo program. His work so impressed Honeywell that they wanted him to move to Florida.
Rather than move out of Minnesota, Don created his own engineering and machining company. This company grew into TEAM Industries, a global competitor and an invaluable supplier of components for clients such as Polaris with manufacturing plants in five Minnesota communities, including Bagley. Don was instrumental in helping Polaris develop its first ATVs in the 1980s.
Don was diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and passed away in 1997. He was posthumously inducted into the IDEA Hall of Fame and into the Polaris Hall of Fame in 2015. His son David Ricke took over as President and CEO of the company and continues the family goal of bringing jobs to rural locations.