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A Lifetime of Satisfying and Fulfilling Work, Family Life and Philanthropy

A Lifetime of Satisfying and Fulfilling Work, Family Life and Philanthropy

Hiram and Ada Drache
In deciding to establish the "Hiram M. and Ada M. Drache Fund for the Comstock House," with the Minnesota Historical Society, Hiram and Ada Drache expressed their deep commitment to the preservation of this historic site in Moorhead, Minnesota, and their life-long belief in the importance of history to the quality of human life. Solomon Comstock, who built the house in 1882, established the First National Bank in Moorhead and Moorhead State University and helped James J. Hill build a railroad system in the Red River Valley. (link to MHS web site/Comstock)

Born and reared in rural southern Minnesota, growing up through the depression of the 1930's, experiencing World War II, and participating in the post war boom, the Draches are numbered among those who have been rightly called "Minnesota's Greatest Generation."

In the 1920's and 30's Hiram experienced the hard work expected of children in rural America. At eight he began delivering milk and by 10 years of age he was riding with truck drivers in his father's business. Ada likewise, though she would say "poverty was never apparent in our home" recognized that there were "lots of hand-me-downs" when it came to "new" clothes. She looks back with fond memories even in a childhood home with no running water or electricity.

Hiram experienced World War II as the navigator of a B 17, and survived three crash landings. Between August 14, 1944, and April 5, 1945, he participated in 32 missions, being the lead navigator on the last 13. On one mission his was one of two B 17's surviving a mission involving 22 damaged planes. He credits his military service with honing his skills and attention to details so important for a professional historian.


Drache's presenting Hiram's latest book to Society's Director, Nina Archabal, April 25, 2009
Following his military service, Hiram returned to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and began a life career of seeking to "apply history to everyday life." Upon completion of his PhD in 1963, his dissertation, Day of the Bonanza, was published and is currently in its 19th printing. There soon followed The Challenge of the Prairie, a vivid and compelling tale of the hardships and triumphs of homesteading in the Red River Valley. And even after twelve books, Hiram is still responding to the challenge of more ideas.

His belief in the importance of economic history was shaped through his teaching career, a life-long passion, as professor of history at Concordia College in Moorhead, coupled with business experience at Federated Mutual Insurance Company and active farming. His most gratifying moments in teaching was when he would hear a student say "you made history come alive for me."

And, as it is said, every successful author is supported by unseen strengths. In Hiram's case it was Ada. In the early writing years, Ada patiently "deciphered" Hiram's handwriting putting the final draft in readable order. On into the computer age, she continues to apply her editing skills with each new book.

From the first book, Day of the Bonanza, Hiram became a popular speaker. By his own count he has delivered 1,100 speeches in 36 states, 6 Provinces of Canada, Germany, Norway and Australia.

Teaching, writing and speaking, each separately enough to occupy a life, has not been enough. The Draches actively farmed for most of those decades.

And now they are generously committing much of their financial substance to the perpetuation of values that were formed in their homes, schools and churches. The Society is honored to recognize their commitment to the preservation of the Comstock house and the history of the Red River Valley that it represents.


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