Auctions pay tribute to life of Britton businessman, farmer

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Farm Forum

A provider of advice and collector of items, William J. “Bill” Kadoun of Britton is remembered by many as an astute businessman who loved people and felt the pulse of the community.

Many will remember Bill as auctioneer Jan Vold described him, “He was a really neat guy. He helped a lot of people along the way and gave a great deal to people.”

His daughter Paula Hanson described him as a very good advice giver. Many farmers, business people and community members would come to him for opinions and ask his advice. Bill died last February at the age of 72.

As a testament to his far-reaching involvement, four auctions will be held this spring.

Bill got cancer about 15 years ago and went through radiation and surgery. The disease returned again 4 years ago. Paula said the chemo treatments took a toll on him and his ability to get out and about. “He still knew more about what was going on in the town than I did,” she said. “He still had the pulse of the town even through he didn’t leave the house.”

Paula, a teacher, lives in Britton and is the executor of the estate. Along with Paula and five surviving sons, there are 19 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. One son passed away a month before Bill.

With land bringing unpredictable prices, Jan Vold of Vold Auctioneers would not offer a guess on what price the prime agricultural land of 1,852 acres of land will bring. “We’ll start with the best quarter of land. Prices are always higher than I think they’ll go. With the history of land bringing record prices in the Groton and Bath areas, plus what land has been going for across Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, it’s anyone’s guess.”

On Feb. 13, 1,852 acres of land, located all four directions from Britton will be offered for sale along with two farm sites and 204,000 bushels of grain storage.

On March 30, farm equipment, trucks, trailers and vehicles will be auctioned.

On April 6, Britton Ready Mix, storage facilities and 25 city lots in Britton will be auctioned along with his house.

A fourth auction will be held in the spring to sell his collection of cars and other collectibles.

According to family, Bill worked for local farmers, and in 1966 he went to work for Leo Butler at the cement plant in Britton. After Leo’s death in 1968, Bill bought the business and owned and operated Britton Ready Mix since that time. In the early 1980s, Bill also began farming.

As one with a good sense for business, he was successful in different businesses, owned three bars/restaurants in his lifetime and sold them as running businesses. He ran a snowmobile shop with a Skidoo dealership in the wintertime to supplement the Ready Mix business. He was active in helping get the Strand movie theater back up and running.

According to Jan and Paula, Bill was a very community-minded person. “Although Bill was not a board member of the Britton Development Corporation, he was a hard worker on their behalf. He wasn’t one to stand in the limelight, but rather to do the behind the scenes, “nitty-gritty” work of making things happen. He was extremely pleased with his contribution in making the Kadoun Addition to the City of Britton a reality, and in being instrumental in guiding the merger of the Wheaton-Dumont Elevator. The Addition provided lots in town for people to build houses.

Bill had a passion for 1964 Ford Galaxies 500s. Paula said she did get to drive those, and one of those will be on the auction. Another favorite car was a 1970 hunter green Cadillac convertible. He drove to Duluth, Minn., to pick it up. He enjoyed taking grandkids out in it. “They loved to crank the windows,” Paula said. He had red and peacock blue ’64 convertibles as well.

In his younger years, Bill enjoyed working on the cars, Paula said. “In his older years, he liked driving or loaning them for others to drive in parades and letting the local nursing home residents ride with him in the Britton homecoming in parade.”

Paula said her dad was an avid Green Sheet reader. He would circle what he would want to remember and write “save” on the front. There even was a Farm Forum displayed at the prayer service before the funeral. It was a huge part of who he was “People might not need it now, someone else may,” he often said of items in the Farm Forum.

Bill had a couple of older trucks as well. Last February just before he died, he sold a 1946 blue and black Chevy pickup. He did a ton of work with Samie Skjonsberg on it. He had it the whole time while Paula was growing up. Bill received a letter from the original owner’s grandson, “I heard you had my grandfather’s truck. If ever willing to sell it, let me know.” Paula’s husband Troy did some repair work, and it was sold to the grandson.

Paula said that Samie was a very good friend. “Samie would help do maintenance on the (Ready Mix) trucks in the winter and was very good with engines.”

Bill enjoyed playing cards with family (especially grandkids), watching westerns and poker on TV, driving around checking crops and working at and watching the progress of construction sites.

He was a worker; didn’t do fishing, didn’t do hobbies. He loved hunting, and it was a family tradition for years when he was younger. He was happiest just spending time with family and friends and telling a few stories. He was an avid collector of many things, including old cars, beer steins, Elvis and John Wayne memorabilia, Terry Redlin items, die-cast trucks and tractors and baseball caps. The auctions will give people from the community an opportunity to remember Bill in a special way.

For Paula, along with the memories, she’ll treasure an antique oval frame with a photo of his mom. “It hung in the house as long as I remember,” she said. “It reminds me of him and of home.”