Man proves you can make it with hard work
Put a red suit and cap on him, and Reign Anduss of Marion, with his flowing white beard, could be a real-life Santa Claus. In fact, he portrayed Santa when he and his wife lived in Ramona.
Anduss grew up in Newton and went through the public school system without learning how to read.
His grades were terrible.
“I got F’s,” he said, but somehow, he was passed from one grade to the next. He dropped out at 16. His principal told him he would never make it, but he has proven that a person can make it with hard work and perseverance.
“I was dumber than hell, but I liked to work,” he said. “I was smart enough to make money.”
His first job was as a mechanic in a Pontiac garage.
Anduss was 17 when he met 18-year-old Marlene Gaede of Lehigh, who was working at a drive-in restaurant in Newton. He fell in love at first sight, but it took a while to convince her that she loved him, he said. They were married in January 1955.
Marlene became his business partner when he leased a gas station at 16th and Main Sts. in Newton at age 20.
“She was smart and was good with numbers,” he said. “She could do everything.”
One day, someone suggested he should read the newspaper, and Anduss, after leaving school, taught himself to read. More success in business followed.
He purchased a gas station with a lift in 1968 and made it a body shop, “Anduss Body Shop.”
The couple opened their first restaurant in 1970, the Walton Café. They lived on a 22-acre farm in the country.
When Marlene developed asthma from the dust coming across U.S.-50 from the grain elevator, they were forced to quit the business.
Anduss went to work for the railroad and worked for them for 17 years.
A smoker, he was on the job when he got into a terrible coughing fit.
“I tried to smoke, and I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I threw the cigarettes away and haven’t touched them since.”
He bought a Peabody restaurant in 1993, which the couple operated for six or seven years and then made it into their home.
Anduss developed slipped discs in his back at age 58 and went on disability. Climbing up and down stairs every day for a month worked to help him overcome the problem.
In 2000, he read about Betty Ohm’s café in Ramona being for sale and decided to check it out. He ended up buying Hanschu’s Grocery building instead. The couple gutted the building and made it into the Ramona Café. They also sold groceries.
They decided to quit the business in 2007 and move to Marion, but they weren’t out of business for long. Anduss rebuilt a small building on their property and opened Mom and Dad’s Café using equipment they had acquired at Ramona.
Anduss lost his wife to cancer in 2014. He said they had a good life together.
“She was happy, and I was happy,” he said.
He soon quit the business and sold his equipment to Pizza Hut.
He tried the business again a few years later, buying equipment out of the burned Big Scoop. When his legs weakened and he decided to quit for good, he sold his equipment to Wagon Wheel Express.
Anduss has three daughters, seven grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren.
“I have two great-great-grandchildren and one on the way,” he said.
At age 83, he is struggling with some health problems, but he continues to enjoy the freedom of living on his own. He spends a lot of time looking back on his life.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I sit here and think about all of the things I’ve done.”
He said he loved painting. He painted cars, trucks, planes, and racecars. He also loved buying and selling houses and cars.
“I always made money,” he said.
Last modified Dec. 11, 2019