Not A Negative Bone or Challenge Too Great for Harlan

On The Road

Taylor and I are so fortunate to be in the warmth and comfort of a home just outside of Davis, SD. We find a man who is not held back by any limitations in life but rather driven by the capabilities that are there.

“I’ll never forget one of the first times I met him.  He was bailing hay for my neighbor friend, and when they were finished, he took his tractor out on the road, and put it in road gear, and opened up the throttle wide open.  And he’s driving down the road, and I’m thinking, he’s handicapped and he’s going to kill himself.  And he’s just amazing,” said veterinarian, Dr. Roy Peters. That is Dr. Roy Peters, relaying a story about his fishing buddy, Harlan Temple of rural Davis, South Dakota.  Another close friend is Linda Javers-Richter who referred this “On the Road” idea to me. 

He’s just an inspiration to everybody that knows him.  I think the old adage, if life gives you a lemon, make lemonade, which as I know him and Rita make lots of lemonade. So, they’ve just made a wonderful life, out of, in spite of his disability,” said Linda Javers-Richter who attended high school with Harlan. Harlan is the son of farmers of German descent, Arleigh and Sophia Jones.  Their baby boy was born with cerebral palsy.  From the beginning, Harlan was taught to contribute. “I remember it like it was yesterday.  To be able to drive the John Deere with the 4-row cultivator and to make a few rounds all by myself.  And the interesting thing is when Dad was on the yard doing chores, Mom came out and said, “where’s Harlan”.  And Dad said, ‘Well he’s out in the field, but I got an eye on him’.” said Harlan Temple.

Like most farm kids, Harlan went to country school, but his folks transferred him to what was then called the “Crippled Children’s Hospital and School” in Sioux Falls. It wasn’t a good fit. Lennox Public Schools Superintendent Mel Lotterman provided a wonderful opportunity beginning his junior year. “So, the only way for him to get from one class to another was for somebody to carry him in his wheelchair.  So that’s what, that’s what we did,” said Linda Javers-Richter.

“I had one privilege and that was to be one of the first people to go for dinner.” “Okay, said host Mike Huether.  “Of the high school,” added Harlan Temple. “Yes,” said Huether. “And so, I always had a lot of volunteers.” laughed Harlan Temple.
After high school, a lawyer friend in Lennox got him interested in the insurance business. In 1964, Harlan got his license and set up an office there.  Business was slow, so two years later he moved his office to Davis, a town of about 100 folks. “My Dad was from Davis,” said Harlan Temple. “Okay, Harlan,” said Huether. “And Dad said, ‘Son, it will be just fine.’ And it was.  It was a God thing.  It was. My business just started to boom after that,” said Harlan Temple.
He built a thriving business and later sold it and it now resides in Lennox with the Temple Insurance Agency name. “I’m still involved.  I still have my license.  And the beautiful thing about it is, I always say, you know I’m semi, semi, semi-retired and I can go in whenever I want.  And if they make an appointment for me, it better not be before 1:30 in the afternoon. (Please include the clap),” said Harlan Temple.

So, what has been the catalyst of his success in life?  His faith, his family, and friends. “It is through him, that I am able to do a lot of these things with the help of my spouse and friends,” said Harlan Temple.
His best friend and loving wife Rita has been at his side for 41 years. “I just can’t imagine how you do take advantage of the day God gives you without your bride Rita,” said Mike Huether. “She’s amazing.  Definitely amazing.  And one of God’s gifts to me, without a doubt,” said Harlan Temple.

Rita was attracted to Harlan’s persistence. “Love happens.  You don’t always plan it and it happened.  We saw a lot of each other and he would come to Sioux Falls and he had this old Buick that made a lot of noise and had glass packs on it.  I could hear him the minute he got off the interstate on Minnesota Avenue because I lived downtown Sioux Falls and I could hear him coming,” said Harlan’s wife, Rita Temple.
“Obviously Harlan couldn’t do a lot of the things that he does if he didn’t have the kind of support he has from Rita,” said Roy Peters, DVM.  “It’s just an amazing, the way they work together,” said Roy Peters, DVM. “Love is your commitment to each other.  And it hasn’t always been easy, but it’s not always bad either.  It’s, it’s, it’s good.  When you love somebody, you do what you can to help them. “That’s what we do for each other, because he gives just as much as he takes,” said Rita Temple.

Even though Harlan’s Dad has passed, his advice to focus on capabilities versus limitations lives on… In his son.  “People think because they’re handicapped or whatever, they don’t have anything to give.  But I think it was a gift that he’s in that wheelchair.  That he has the time to listen to people and care about them in ways that those of us who are in a hurry and always going somewhere.  Don’t have that kind of time,” said Roy Peters, DVM.

“It’s just his attitude every day is, you know, he’s overcome, and he’s just accepted what God has handed him, and he doesn’t ever feel sorry for himself that I know of, or what could have been.  It’s just he’s accepting what is,” said Linda Javers-Richter.  “And making the most of it,” said Huether. “And making the most of it,” agreed Linda Javers-Richter.
“I think life should be lived to the fullest to whatever capability that we have.  And to make a difference in the world.  And never give up.  Just hang in there.  Do what you can, whatever it may be.  It might be something very simple, but it’s all meaningful.  We all have a purpose in this life, and you just gotta go for it,” said Harlan Temple. “When I asked Harlan what are a couple of goals that he has, he told me he wants to go ice fishing and is also focused on getting a white tail deer with a crossbow,” said Mike Huether. “And… oh yes, he wants to go ZIPLINING!!!  With the help of Rita and friends, I like his chances.”

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