Monthly Archives: April 2015

Life without Joe Hutter

page-0-3page-0-2IMG_1438 IMG_2525 IMG_2580 IMG_2595 IMG_2600 IMG_3324 copy Photo_8cuoceeuuk5fmdLife without Joe. That’s going to take some adjustment for me and many others.

Joe Hutter (pictured above), 77, of Bettendorf, died on April 18. He had experienced a variety of health problems in the last year but — until now — had bravely fought his way through them.

His obituary described Joe as a “retired Bettendorf police officer, two-term Iowa state representative, community activist and civic volunteer.” But to me Joe was much more; he was one of my closest friends. In fact, I thought of him as the big brother I never had.

Joe was born and raised in Dubuque. He graduated from Loras Academy and served in the Navy from 1956 to 1958.

He signed on with the Bettendorf Police Auxiliary in 1964 and was on the regular force from 1966 to 1994. He also served temporary stints as the city’s police chief and fire chief over those years.

Joe earned an A.A. degree in general studies from Black Hawk Community College in 1973. In 1977 he graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A. degree in law enforcement administration. In 1978 and 1979, he taught law enforcement classes at Black Hawk and served as an advisor to the Scott Community College Criminal Justice Club.

Joe witnessed much growth in Bettendorf and its police force. He once noted in one of his Bettendorf News columns that in the early years of his police service, there were only 10 officers on the force, and he was the only one on duty Saturday mornings.

I met Joe in the early 1990s. Bettendorf police had made a big drug bust and hosted a news conference to discuss it and to show off the confiscated drugs. Joe attended the news conference on behalf of the police department, and I was there as a reporter for The Leader newspaper.

Our friendship began in 1993 when I was asked to join the Mississippi Valley Fair Board, where Joe had been a member since 1985.

Joe and I hit it off from the start. We enjoyed discussing any number of topics with each other in person, on the phone or over breakfast or lunch. If our wives didn’t accompany us to the annual convention of fairs and expositions in Las Vegas, Joe and I shared a hotel room. When we weren’t sitting in seminars, we were together, dining, walking through the trade show or touring the Las Vegas strip on a trolley.

When Joe decided to run for state representative in Iowa House District 82, I volunteered my time to write any needed news releases, including those announcing his regular Java with Joe meetings with his constituents once he was elected.

He aptly described himself in an August 2006 news release announcing his bid for re-election to a third term as an independent after losing by a small margin in the Republican primary.

“I have done a good job for my district and have been a strong voice for the Bettendorf area in the Iowa House,” he said. “I don’t play politics. I can’t be bought or intimidated, and people like that.”

But being an independent didn’t play well, his opponent outspent him and his re-election bid failed.

During each annual Mississippi Valley Fair, Joe and I spent lots of time together. Some of that was on a golf cart touring the fairgrounds. Joe would drive me around so I could take a variety of photographs for the fair’s archives and/or The North Scott Press.

It was always a long ride because it seemed everyone knew Joe, and Joe knew everyone. We stopped often for conversations. Joe was a people person and a good listener.

I considered every moment with Joe a gift because of something that had happened some years back. One evening he and his wife Barbara were in their living room when, without warning, Joe went into cardiac arrest. Barb called 9-1-1 and, as luck would have it, a Bettendorf police officer and his firefighter son were together in a personal vehicle near the Hutter residence. They heard medics being dispatched on their pagers.

The duo hurried to the Hutter house, performed CPR on Joe and kept him alive until help arrived. Had the pair not been nearby that night, Joe would have died in his living room. After that incident I called Joe the “miracle man.”

While Joe’s obituary lists many of his volunteer activities, it does not list some of the interesting jobs he held following his retirement from the police department.

He worked as a security officer for Burns Security in Bettendorf from 1994 to 1996. Joe also used to drive elderly people to their doctor appointments, and not just locally. There were trips to places like Madison, Wis.

He was head of security at Jumer’s Castle Lodge from 1996 to 1999 and was a field representative for the Better Business Bureau in 2000 and 2001. He later handled backstage security at the I-Wireless Center.

But the work I think Joe enjoyed most was writing columns. They appeared for years in the Bettendorf News and 50+ Lifestyle magazine. Joe knew no strangers, and interviewing folks was right up his alley.

Though Joe often wrote about interesting people, “everything and anything is fair game,” he noted in his first Bettendorf News column in March 2009.

Last November Joe couldn’t wait to tell me that he had been named publisher at 50+ Lifestyle.

“I will be writing in this column about anything that may help you or your family, such as information on assisted living, home healthcare, senior transportation and, in fact, even about people who are healthcare providers,” Joe wrote in his first column as publisher.

Since his death, I suspect Joe has been busy in heaven reuniting with Barbara, who died unexpectedly in 2003, and catching up with old friends who were waiting to greet him. And if there is a newspaper or magazine there, Joe has probably already applied for a job as columnist.

Copyright 2015 By Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as a column to The North Scott Press, Eldridge Iowa.


Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Uncategorized



You’ll think you’re in Mayberry

The front of the house.

The front of the house.

Ellie, the official greeter.

A welcoming living room.

A welcoming living room.

Remember when TVs looked like this?

Remember when TVs looked like this?

A shot of the dining area taken from the living room.

A shot of the dining area taken from the living room.

Dave shows off Aunt Bee's kitchen.

Dave shows off Aunt Bee’s kitchen.

The stairs lead to three bedrooms on the second floor.

The stairs lead to three bedrooms on the second floor.

The television room on the second floor.

The television room on the second floor.

Opie's bedroom.

Opie’s bedroom.

Aunt Bee's bedroom.

Aunt Bee’s bedroom.

Andy's bedroom.

Andy’s bedroom.

Dave points to some of the artifacts in the Mayberry Courthouse.

Dave points to some of the artifacts in the Mayberry Courthouse.

The Sheriff's office looks just the way you remember it.

The sheriff’s office looks just the way you remember it.

The only thing missing from the jail is Otis Campbell.

The only thing missing from the jail is Otis Campbell.

Breakfast was served on china just like Aunt Bee's.

Breakfast was served on china just like Aunt Bee’s.

A scrambled egg dish was delicious.

A scrambled egg dish was delicious.

When you pull up in front of a nearly exact replica of Sheriff Andy Taylor’s house, you feel like you’re in the sleepy town of Mayberry, N.C., and you’ve stepped back in time to a simpler way of life.

Look at the wicker furniture on the inviting front porch of the Taylor house. You can easily visualize the cast of TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show,” which aired from 1960 to 1968, relaxing there on a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon.

Andy, a widower, is strumming his guitar while Barney, his cousin and deputy, and his son Opie, listen. Andy’s Aunt Bee walks out of the house holding a tray of glasses and serves lemonade to everyone.

But this isn’t Mayberry. This is western Wisconsin, and the house is the Taylor Home Inn Bed & Breakfast (, located 90 miles northeast of the Twin Cities.

My wife Sherry and I stayed there March 26. Sorting through some paperwork recently, I had discovered an old newspaper article about it that I had clipped and saved.

In 2003, Dave Scheuermann, the B&B’s owner and operator, built this faithful recreation of Andy’s house on six acres of land at 373 30th Ave., outside of the town of Clear Lake, population 1,052. Clear Lake is the hometown of the late Burleigh Grimes, a baseball hall of famer known for being the last player officially permitted to throw the spitball and the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.

Dave was just 1 year old when “The Andy Griffith Show” first went on the air. Despite that, he is a huge fan and probably knows more show trivia than anyone you’ll ever run across.

It’s no wonder. To build his replica, he studied every one of the nearly 250 episodes to determine the layout of Andy’s house and how it was furnished.

He decided on the 12-foot width of the living room’s stone fireplace, for example, by counting the number of strides the sheriff took as he walked in front of it, figuring 3 feet for each step.

When you walk in the front door of the B&B, you’ll likely be greeted by Ellie Walker, Dave’s ultra-friendly pet Schnauzer. She is named for Andy’s first regular girlfriend, played by Elinor Donahue, on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Then you’ll step into Andy’s living room, which looks exactly like it did on TV. It’s so familiar, you feel like you’re home.

A black rotary dial phone sits on an end table near the fireplace. And leaning against the fireplace is an acoustic guitar. A pair of Barney’s handcuffs rest on a small table used for registering guests. There’s a vintage RCA Victor black-and-white television. And on a piano near the stairs leading to the second level is a bottle of the “medicine” that “will fix any ailment” and made Aunt Bee loopy, Col. Harvey’s Indian Elixir.

On one side of the living room is the dining area with its familiar hutch and a Grandma Moses painting that took Dave four years to find.

The search for the proper furniture and accessories, Dave said, is “kind of like a scavenger hunt…. Where you find them is kind of interesting.”

Through an adjacent doorway is the kitchen where Aunt Bee prepared dinner and Barney stopped by for coffee.

Upstairs are three bedrooms — Andy’s, Aunt Bee’s and Opie’s — from which visitors can choose. All include a private bathroom. We stayed in Andy’s room for our visit.

Also on the second floor is a comfortable television room with satellite TV, afghans or quilts for cuddling, movies and vintage television shows on DVD, a variety of games, a refrigerator, a microwave oven and complimentary water and popcorn. Dave even served us delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies there during our stay.

One of the highlights for me in the Taylor house was the basement, where a replica of the Mayberry Courthouse has been constructed. It includes the office of the sheriff and justice of the peace, two jail cells and Barney’s simple sleeping room.

A replica of Wally’s Filling Station sits outside in back along with a putting green for guests who are golfers and want to practice.

Some woods are adjacent to the house, and it is surrounded by hay fields that provide cover for deer, foxes and other animals. Dave said he has even seen a bear from time to time.

Future plans include conversion of a 1961 Ford that Dave owns into a Mayberry squad car and construction of Floyd’s Barbershop next to the courthouse in the basement.

Celebrity guests at the B&B have included:
• Musician Rodney Dillard of The Dillards, a bluegrass band from Salem, Mo., that appeared as “The Darlings” on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
• Actor James Best, who is best known as bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

The proprietor has food service experience, and that was obvious at breakfast time. He started us off with coffee, orange juice and a goblet of sweet yogurt topped with granola and fresh strawberries. He followed that with some warm rolls and preserves and a scrambled egg dish that included sausage and was topped with chopped green onions and melted cheese.

Everything was delicious, and the food was served on Blue Willow plates just like Aunt Bee’s.

Rates at the Taylor Home Inn Bed & Breakfast are $128 per bedroom per night. Dave doesn’t take credit cards, so payment must be made by cash or check.

If you want to stay there, make a reservation by phone at (715) 263-ANDY (2639) or by email at

Copyright 2015 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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