Kieth Tadlock

Obituary of Kieth Tadlock

Services are being planned for April 20, 2024, 11:00 AM at the Spirit Lake First Presbyterian Church for Kieth Tadlock. 

Kieth Vernon Tadlock of Spirit Lake, Iowa passed away on December 13, 2023 at the age of 98.  Kieth was born to Donovan and Hilda (Blank) Tadlock on February 14,1925 in Rosalie, Nebraska. Kieth was the third of four brothers, Guy, Kenneth, and Robert.

His family moved to Ashland, Nebraska in 1938 where Kieth graduated from high school in 1942. After graduation he enrolled at Nebraska Wesleyan College in Lincoln. He was drafted into the US Army in June of 1943, and was then transferred to the Army Air Corps. He served as an airplane armored gunner where he operated twin .50 caliber machine guns in the nose turret on a B24 bomber named “Dogpatch Delight”. He served with the 49th Bombardment Group, 867th Bombardment Squadron in the Asiatic Pacific Theater. After advanced training at Barking Sands Army Airfield in Hawaii, he was deployed to Angaar Airstrip in the Palau Islands, flying long range missions against Japanese airfields in the Philippines.

Kieth married his high school sweetheart, Marian A. Dreyer on November 28, 1944 in Lincoln, Nebraska before he was sent to Virginia to have radar installed in his plane and receiving his orders. In June 1945, his group moved to an airfield on the island of Okinawa. After the Japanese surrendered in August, Kieth was part of the occupation forces in Japan until he was honorably discharged on December 30, 1945.

Kieth returned to Ashland, Nebraska where he was reunited with his wife, Marian, and Lynn, their three month old daughter. The family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska so Kieth could finish his undergraduate studies at Nebraska Wesleyan College. He played on the college football team, the Plainsman, where he played offense and defense. Their team played in the inaugural Will Rogers Bowl in Oklahoma City on January 1, 1947.

Upon graduation, Kieth took a teaching job in Wausa, Nebraska. He taught history, math and industrial arts as well as coaching football, basketball and track. Lynn was joined by sister Karen (1948) and brothers Terry (1950) and Kent (1953).

After several years, Kieth became the principal in the Wausa school system and decided to continue his education by earning his master's degree at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. It took 4 summers but he reached his goal.

In 1957, Kieth took his first superintendent’s position at Thurman, Iowa. He continued his leadership role as a school superintendent in the Iowa towns of Stanton, Exira, Ida Grove and Colo. Kieth always had a way of connecting with his students and faculty. The first graders couldn’t wait for his arrival on the playground to push them on their swings much higher than allowed. His students and teachers always looked forward to a joke or two over the intercom at the beginning of each school day.

Kieth’s first class of graduated seniors at Wausa invited him to their 50th class reunion and thanked him for his advice of appearing more confident than they felt, to participate in their class discussions, and to not be afraid to ask for help if needed. They spoke about the ways he changed their lives and how he had contributed to their success. It brought him to tears to know that his life's work had made a difference for his students.

Kieth enjoyed life and loved the outdoors! He hunted deer in Colorado and canoed in the Boundary Waters of Canada. He had many bass fishing escapades at Viking Lake with his neighbor and fishing buddy, Kirk. The stories that could be told!

During the summer of 1962, he and his family painted (Nebraska red of course) and converted a retired school bus into the first RV by removing the seats and remodeling the inside. The entire family, including the dog, loaded up and embarked on a month-long trip to visit the western part of the US. They visited national parks and monuments, California beaches, redwood forests, and visited with family in San Francisco and others on up the coast. Seattle allowed them a visit to the World’s Fair and an opportunity to see the Space Needle. On their return trip, they did a little fishing through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and finally Iowa.

Kieth continued to enjoy many more trips in the Big Red School Bus to the Lake of the Ozarks with multiple FFA classes. This became sort of a FFA tradition.

Kieth loved all sports. He played football, basketball and ran track in high school. His father helped build a new football stadium at the high school in Ashland.

Kieth was inducted into the Nebraska Wesleyan Football Hall of Fame in 1980 as an individual player. He was proud of the fact that he had the bragging right as the only player who still weighed in at his playing weight. In 1996 he was inducted again into the Hall of Fame as a member of the 1947 team when the entire team was honored.

After a 40-year career in education, Kieth retired from the Colo-NESCO Community School District. He developed several hobbies including golf, painting and wood carving. Every year he carved one Iowa State Cyclone football player and one Iowa University Hawkeye football player which were donated to the Methodist Church auction in Colo. A lot of money was generated by competitive bidding by enthusiastic fans. He even helped guide fans parking their cars at Iowa State football games.

He was a lifetime member of the Colo American Legion which presented him a Quilt of Honor in 2021. He was a member of the Colo Lions Club and chaired the Iowa Chop Stop in Colo whenever RAGBRAI happened to roll through town. Kieth was also a fifty-year member of the Masonic Lodge.

Kieth and Marian also enjoyed their winter home in Barefoot Bay, Florida. Here they spent their winters meeting friends, golfing, going to the flea market, buying grapefruit and oranges at the grove, afternoon movies, eating out, and enjoying a mimosa or two. Their favorite restaurant was the “Yellow Dog.” Many meals were shared at this establishment along the intercoastal waterway about 20 minutes north of their winter home.

In 2009, Kieth and Marian moved to Keelson Harbour, an assisted living facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa to be close to their daughter, Lynn, and her husband, Bob. They enjoyed the Okoboji Summer Theatre and had season tickets. After Marian’s passing, Kieth attended the performances with his friend Marvin every week during the season. He supervised and helped when he could on Bob’s projects at the cottage on the lake. He spent time watching the Nebraska football games and would join Lynn and Bob for chili when the games weren’t on his channels. Kieth was an avid reader. His favorite was Louie Lamour who wrote western adventures. He attended Thursday morning Bible Study at the Presbyterian church where he had lots of questions for Pastor Clint.

Kieth is survived by his four children, Lynn (Bob) Peterson, Karen (Jimmie) Stewart, Terence (Susan) Tadlock, Kent (Mary) Tadlock, 9 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and many other extended family members and friends.

Kieth was preceded in death by his parents, Donovan and Hilda (Blank), his wife Marian and his three brothers.

Kieth’s greatest passion was spending time with his family. He livened up the family celebrations whether it was a wedding or a reunion, with his rendition of “Here Rattler Here” (all 5 verses!). Kieth was a great storyteller, and he continued to bless his family and friends with his humorous yet fascinating stories. Each time he told a story it had a greater degree of embellishment!

Kieth will be remembered as a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great grandfather, uncle, friend, school administrator, coach, mentor, wood carver, and WWII veteran.  He will be in our hearts forever!

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to:

Any educational institution of your choice.

The American Legion ( donate).

Okoboji Summer Theatre by mail at OST Fund, 1200 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65215, or, scroll down to For Donors and Supporters, select secure webform.

Alzheimer’s disease research (

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