Garber Donation to American Trotter Trail Recognized

October 23, 2014 (Independence, IA) – The Independence Community School District (ICSD) extends their gratitude to another recent donor to the American Trotter Trail project, Susan Garber. Garber made a donation of a bench, trash receptacle and light to honor the memory of her parents, Doris and Rudolph “Rudy” A. Leytze.

Rudy grew up in Independence and was an entrepreneur from an early age. His first jobs as a boy were selling the Saturday Evening Post door-to-door and raising chickens in his backyard. Rudy played football for the Independence Mustangs and went on to play at the collegiate level with the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, but his entrepreneurial ways continued. He and a friend established a laundry pick-up and delivery service for students, and during the summers, they booked bands for a dance hall in Arnolds Park on Lake Okoboji. It was there that Rudy met his future wife, Doris Hartenstein. They were married on November 23, 1936. After graduation, Doris and Rudy returned to Independence where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Rudy joined his father at Leytze’s Furniture and Appliance store and Doris became a homemaker. Together they reared three children and were longtime members of First Presbyterian Church.

While in college, Rudy developed an interest in finance and banking. Soon after returning to Independence, he created a small finance company named Security Thrift and Acceptance Co. (STAC) and also began buying Farmers Bank stock (now known as Banklowa).

In 1941, Rudy enlisted in the Navy; serving in the South Pacific until the end of the war. After the war, Rudy worked at STAC while continuing to acquire Farmers Bank stock. He also spearheaded a group of local businessmen who raised money to replace the burned-out Gedney Hotel with the Pinicon Hotel, headed the board of the Oakwood Cemetery Association, was a member of various service organizations and was a Deacon in his church. In 1948, Rudy was invited to join the board of Farmers Bank, which marked the beginning of his 50-year career in banking.

In the meantime, Doris continued to excel as a homemaker.  According to Garber, “she was an excellent cook and loved entertaining friends and family; with her primary focus being family. She was always a supportive wife and mother and adored becoming a grandmother to nine grandchildren.”

Both Rudy and Doris believed in “giving back” to their community.  In that spirit, Rudy established the Mustang Foundation Endowment Fund followed by endowments with the Buchanan County Health Trust and the First Presbyterian Church. Rudy was honored as Citizen of the Year in 1994 and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Independence Chamber of Commerce. However, according to Garber, their eldest daughter, the honor belonged to both her parents because, “truth be told, they truly were a team!”

At this time, only three bench locations remain open for recognition. The funds donated to the American Trotter Trail Project are used to pay for the benches, lighting and litter receptacles along the trail. The District recently installed additional lights along the American Trotter Trail using donated proceeds.

Making a donation to the American Trotter Trail is a distinct way to honor a loved one, recognize a graduating class (Class of XXXX), remember an achievement (XXXX State Champs), or publicize your business name to all who frequent the trail.

Community members have access to this paved trail on part of the Independence Community School District’s 92 acres. The American Trotter Trail name is in honor of the late C.W. Williams who owned a horse racing publication in the 1890’s called, The American Trotter, and also had a nationally recognized kite-shaped horse racing track, located primarily on the school’s 92 acres. The American Trotter Trail connects all three school buildings, creating a unified campus.

To make a donation or for more information on the American Trotter Trail, visit the Independence Mustang Foundation website at and click on the News/Projects page.


American Trotter Trail donor, Susan Garber, with ICSD School Board Vice-President, Shelly Whited. Photo by John Klotzbach.

American Trotter Trail donor, Susan Garber, with ICSD School Board Vice-President, Shelly Whited.
Photo by John Klotzbach.

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