My family walks as a little girl always included walking by a well known house in Decatur. Due to the cream and deep red stucco styling of the house it has been called the “Taco Bell House” for as long as I can remember. For the past two summers, I have been helping the owners, Denny and Lori, take care of their yard and any other tasks they need done. I was excited for the opportunity to interview Denny and when I asked he answered with the humor he always has: “I guess I will be your victim, but I might break your camera.”
Denny Klatt was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 4, 1933. He grew up as a farm kid with his mom, Nora and stepdad, Leo Klatt. His biological father died when Denny was just six months old. When Denny turned 12 years old, Leo adopted him.
In 1950, he graduated high school and soon after joined the Navy. He spent 4 years in the military. The Navy took him to many places, including California, Panama Canal, Rhode Island, Korea, Caribbean ports, Jamaica, Cuba, and Boston. During his inactive years, he attended college at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.
He and his wife, Lori, have lived in Decatur for the past 18 years. They got married in 1983 accompanied by family and a few friends. Denny says, “Marrying Lori was one of the most exciting times in my life.”
Denny says, “I remember Leo telling me, ‘If you want to farm, I mean it’s here, but if there’s anything else you think you want to do, I suggest you do it.’” He took his stepdad’s advice and ran with it. Denny has started multiple construction businesses throughout his life, one of which was established in 1986 and is very successful. He plans on retiring and letting his partners, Todd and Chris, take it over soon.
Denny has lived in Storm Lake, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Duluth, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Sioux City, Iowa. He has lived in Decatur since September of 1999.
Before moving to Decatur, Denny and his friends would travel up river from Omaha to Sioux City and he said, “I’ve always liked this area, I like the looks of it and the relaxed atmosphere.” He has boated the Missouri for 50 years and he is proud to be a “river rat.” He and his wife have made some great friends in the community. As he says, “The river is what drew us here, but the town and people are what make us love it here.”
With six kids, Michael, Kevin, Erin, Kelly, DJ, and Tanya, 22 grandkids and soon to be 7 great grandkids, Denny finds joy in keeping his pool and boat, or as he calls it his “baby,” looking nice for his family.
Denny says and believes, “There have been some things I wasn’t very happy about, but I’ve been very blessed. Life has been good to me.”