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David Prelip helped chronicle Fort Dodge history

One of the finest and most devoted chroniclers of Fort Dodge’s rich history has now become a part of that history with the death Oct. 25, 2020, of David George Prelip at the age of 90.

Shagging the drag. Dining at Treloars Inn, Constantines, Tony’s. Movies at the Strand, Rialto, Dodge and Iowa movie theaters on Central Avenue. The Lancers Drum and Bugle Corps. The Harvest Festival at Dodger Stadium. Buddy Holly performing at the Laramar.

Through his photographic work, taking his own photos and improving older historic photos, Dave Prelip kept alive the history of these and many other institutions and events in the Facebook pages devoted to the city and Webster County.

Hundreds of regular viewers of those sites, most of whom never met him, mourn his death. One of them, Sue Baedke, wrote in the “Fort Dodge Iowa: Best Hometown in America” Facebook site:

“What a great historian of our Ft Dodge story! Bless him for all that he shared so that we were able to relive some of our cherished memories and enjoy seeing doors to the past open each time he added an old Ft Dodge photo!! Also enjoyed how he kept us up to date with new photos. I felt like I knew him, even though we had never met! Rest In Peace Mr. Prelip.”

The Internet and photo editing tools were undaunting to this member of the Greatest Generation, an Army veteran of the Korean War who worked 27 years as a service technician for Sears before retiring in 1990.

In an interview with The Messenger several years ago, Prelip said one of his hobbies was “using Photoshop, and I touch up the historic photos that I am able to find and that people have given to me. I have quite a few pictures that I still haven’t gotten to yet. But I also take a lot of pictures that show Fort Dodge buildings and scenes as they are today.”

Prelip owned an arsenal of six high-end cameras, and the photographs that he regularly contributed to the Facebook sites drew many Facebook “Likes” and comments from viewers who hail from all around the world, but who also live in Fort Dodge and the surrounding area.

Prelip was part of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight five years ago that took veterans to see monuments in Washington, D.C., and traveled with his cameras, naturally – feeding some of the photos to the Fort Dodge Facebook sites.

Neil Olson, founder and administrator of “Fort Dodge Iowa: Best Hometown in America,” told the group: “He went out of his way to research and post photos that made all of us very happy. We are thankful for all his time and effort. Our group will never be the same. Hopefully his family will find some comfort knowing that he made thousands of people happy. Dave is missed.”

Prelip’s family said a private ceremony has already taken place: “This was his dying wish. The ones who want to remember him by please keep Holy Trinity Parish in mind. Dave was known for amateur radio and his beautiful pictures that he shared on Facebook and with a lot of other people. Thanks to everybody that touched his life. Special thanks to doctors and staff at Unity Point Hospital 3N, and to Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.”

Paul Stevens writes the monthly Spotlight column for The Messenger.

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