SIOUX CITY -- Polar, a cheerful and energetic Golden Retriever about 12 weeks old, was sold at the 2018 Little Yellow Dog Auction for $15,750.
The buyer was Shane Keizer and his family, who also have Yorkshire terriers at their Dakota Dunes home. Keizer is the president of Sioux City's Keizer Refrigeration, Inc.
Keizer said in an interview after the auction that his wife, Shawnie, had told him "don't do anything dumb" Saturday morning prior to the auction.
"We're big Golden Retreiver fans, and of course the charity is amazing," Keizer said. "We've been here the last five or six years, and it's awesome."
Dozens of people attended the auction at the Ho-Cunk Centre in downtown Sioux City, which began just after noon Saturday. KSCJ Radio's Charlie Stone and Dave Nixon, a former anchor for KTIV and KCAU television, emceed the event, and the All-American Concert Band played traditional Christmas songs.
Bidding began at $500 and increased gradually over the course of the next hour. The audience applauded when the price reached $15,000.
Keizer said that by the time he decided to purchase the dog, his mind was made up: "We're all in."
Auctioneer Bruce Brock at one point during the auction remarked about the softness of the friendly puppy's fur.
"Polar is softer than mink," Brock said.
Prior to Saturday's auction, Polar spent time at the home of Dr. Michelle Bader, kennel master for the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog and a veterinarian at Family Pet Hospital of Sioux City.
Proceeds from the auction, sponsored by the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog, will benefit the Sioux City Journal's Mr. Goodfellow Charity, a tradition that has provided gifts and books to underprivileged children in the area since 1914.
Between the sale of Daisy and other donations, Mr. Goodfellow has raised about $110,000 as of Saturday, Mr. Goodfellow treasurer Sue Stusse said.
The dog auction itself goes back to 1936, when a mixed-breed dog named Skippy sold for $25. The price fetched by dogs in subsequent years increased greatly, peaking at $45,000 with the sale of Stoney, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, in 2011.
Stoney, now seven years old, was at Saturday's auction, along with owner John Roost and Roost's girlfriend Melissa Hinton.
Hinton said that Stoney, named for longtime Little Yellow Dog volunteer Don Stone, has calmed down in mid-age. He was rambunctious as a puppy.
"Puppyhood was interesting, but once we got past puppyhood, he's been great," she said. "He was very destructive."
Today, Stoney is a big fan of hunting pheasants and swimming, and spends time playing with the couple's other dog, a five-month-old English Coonhound.
Last year's Little Yellow Dog, Daisy, was also at the auction. Formerly called Samantha, the tiny white Maltese was purchased for $15,000 by Darlene Erickson, the secretary-treasurer of the Order. Erickson's previous dog, a 16-year-old Maltese, had died earlier that year.
For most of Saturday's event, Daisy was handled by Lynne Boulden, Erickson's stepdaughter.
"She's my stepsister," Boulden said of Daisy.
DONOR: Thorpe & Co. Jewellers
ABOUT THE DONOR: Located at 501 Fourth Street, Thorpe & Co. Jewellers has a four-generation, 118-year history in downtown Sioux City. The store, which offers a variety of fine jewelry and gifts, is owned by Rusty and Karen Clark. Rusty's father, Thorpe Clark, was a founding Tailwagger, a group of business leaders who worked behind the scenes in support of Mr. Goodfellow Charities and its Little Yellow Dog Auction.
DONOR COMMENT: "We have a long history of donating to organizations that support needy children and their families. We are proud to support the Goodfellows again this year."
CORRECTIONVILLE, Iowa -- Debra Langschwager strings together plastic grocery bags, making mats for homeless veterans, one way she honors the memory of an uncle who died in the Korean War and never came home.
U.S. Army Private First Class Daniel Harley Hansen was taken prisoner of war while fighting the enemy near Chochiwon, South Korea, on July 11, 1950. He was forced to march to North Korea on the "Tiger Death March" and died on Dec. 10, 1950, in North Korea, 68 years ago Monday.
His remains were not recovered.
On Friday, officials with the Woodbury County Commission of Veterans Affairs made sure Langschwager received the medals Hansen earned so long ago. She examined the ribbons and medals, citations honoring him for service and his ultimate sacrifice, and wondered what could have -- or what did -- become of an uncle she never met?
"I remember him in prayer every day," she said. "There's a small part of me that wonders if he's still alive."
The U.S. Army says he isn't. But it can be confusing to a family member who has never been alerted about the final resting place of her uncle's remains. There was a lead a few years ago. Two of Langschwager's siblings submitted saliva from cheek swabs for DNA testing performed on the remains of another soldier who died in Korea. The Langschwager DNA didn't prove to be a match.
So the mystery, even in its slightest form, lives on.
"There were 10 of us in my family," Debra Langschager continued. "Our hope was always that one of us would somehow see Danny again. He'd be 94 now."
One of Danny Hansen's brothers, Donald Hansen, served in the military in Korea and attempted to learn what he could about his older brother's death. He came away with a Purple Heart presented posthumously to Danny, but that was it. Donald Hansen died in 2014.
Daniel Harley Hansen, son of Martin and Betty Hansen, of Correctionville, was born Nov. 9, 1924. Betty died earlier in 1950, a few of months before her son's capture. The Hansens had 14 children, five of them veterans. The family's first World War II veteran, John Henry "Jack" Hansen, was killed in a train vs. auto crash at Correctionville on July 4, 1946, months after his discharge. One account said the locomotive hit the car in which Hansen was riding and ended up pushing Hansen's body 550 feet before it came to rest 40 feet from the Hansen home on Correctionville's northwest edge.
"Jack" Hansen had just played baseball in the park at Correctionville and was being given a lift home when he was killed.
A headstone for Daniel Hansen was placed next to his parents' plot at Correctionville Cemetery, where his father was buried after his death in 1966. Daniel Hansen's grave remains empty, however, as his body wasn't recovered.
"My mother, Dorothy (Hansen) Langschwager, graduated from Correctionville High School in 1950," Debra said. "She never talked about this."
Debra and her sister, Betsy Clark, of Washta, Iowa, became interested in their family's history, interest that received a boost when Lisa Robinson, a clerk serving the Woodbury County Commission of Veterans Affairs, connected Daniel Hansen's name to his nieces more than a year ago.
"We had gotten certificates from the Iowa Veterans Museum for MIAs/POWs from the Korean War," Robinson said. "I had gotten an (on-line) ancestry account while we researched Civil War veterans in Woodbury County for a headstone project."
Robinson used her computer know-how to continue connecting families after wrapping up the Civil War project. She invited Debra Langschwager and Clark to attend a Veterans Day program at the Woodbury County Courthouse in 2017, whereupon a certificate was presented in their uncle's honor. Robinson then embarked on tracking down medals Daniel Hansen had earned.
"We weren't expecting these medals until February, it often takes a long time," Robinson said. "And then they showed up in December."
In addition to a Purple Heart and Silver Star, Robinson's office was able to obtain medals for the Korean War, World War II, United Nations, Prisoner of War and National Defense and get them to his niece.
"Maybe we'll make a shadow box and present it to the American Legion in Correctionville," Langschwager said on Friday. "I'll see what my sister wants to do."
She held the photo of the young Army soldier in her hands, examining his smile and the tattered, yellowing corners of the portrait. It may be one of the only photos that remains of Daniel Hansen.
Words written diagonally across the back of the photo show in pencil. Whoever wrote the description did so softly, in near-perfect flowing cursive. "Daniel Hansen," it reads, "died in Korea 1950...Lost in action."