Danny Huls leaves behind a life of service to his community
Behind the scenes or in front of the crowd, Huls worked hard to help others.
WORTHINGTON — Beneath an occasionally gruff exterior, Danny Huls hid a kind heart and an endless desire to help others that his community has already begun to miss since his death Thursday, April 14, at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
Huls was 64.
“I'm not surprised he died of a heart attack, because his heart was too big for any body,” said Susanne Murphy, who worked with Huls on King Turkey Day festivities for years — as part of the KTD Board of Directors and then as part of the race team, too.
“We brought a trophy home. We won in Worthington and we won in Cuero, (Texas),” Murphy said. “He was so proud of that trophy; he carried it in the parade like .. it was his first-born.”
But Huls wasn’t in it for bragging rights or glory, either, because he could always be found working behind the scenes, lending his expertise and time to the community and bringing others in to do the same. As the owner of Dan’s Electric and an accomplished electrician, Huls, with his crew, spent endless hours every year wiring and rewiring the downtown area for Turkey Day, and when the festivities were at the fairgrounds they wired that too.
Clair VanGrouw, a general contractor who often worked with Huls, praised him as a “brilliant electrician,” noting that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix or figure out.
Huls never sent the KTD board a bill for the work.
“We usually didn’t have to ask him to do something. He already went ahead and did it. He just knew what had to be done,” Murphy said. “Life would be a lot easier if everybody could be like Danny.”
And it wasn’t just King Turkey Day, either. He helped with the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival and spent years volunteering with the Worthington Hockey Association. He led the Elks Club and helped remodel their space as well, and no bills were sent there, either.
“He’d jump right in and help,” said Doug Tate, a past president of the KTD Board of Directors and member of the race team. “He’s going to be missed for sure.”
And not just for his work, either. Tate and his wife, Amanda Walljasper-Tate, were close friends with Huls and his wife Mary.
“He liked to laugh, liked to enjoy life, live life big,” Tate said. “When he got involved in something, he went all in.”
Huls had just taken up leatherworking as a hobby, but he was also a gun enthusiast with a passion for pheasant hunting. He loved fishing too — Tate first got to know him during a fishing trip to Canada in 2006.
“He lived big, he lived well,” Walljasper-Tate said. “He just did the things he wanted to do, had fun and enjoyed traveling.”
Huls made friends wherever he went, and always made sure everyone around him was having a good time.
“Dan was a lot of fun,” said VanGrouw, whose daughter married Huls’ son. “We fished a lot, hunted a lot, drank a couple of truckloads of beer and laughed a lot. Dan was a great guy, he was everybody’s buddy.”
“He was fun-loving and always in the middle of stuff, pretty excited to be involved,” said Pete Suby, who also served on the KTD Board. “He had time to help anybody that needed it.”
A group of Huls’ friends from Cuero, Texas, is flying up to Worthington for his funeral, because after years of working on King Turkey Day they became close friends.
“Anybody that met Danny, they were instant family, and the Texans are proof of it,” Murphy said.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, with a service at 4 p.m., at the Worthington Event Center. Benson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
“From Danny, we’ve all learned to live in the moment, enjoy life and do the things you want to do,” Walljasper-Tate said. “We don’t know how long we’ll be here on this earth.”