bosssnowplows wb
David Low,Veterans

A Veteran, a Snowmobiler, and a Very Good Friend!

By Jim Duke , Contributing  Writer

A short time back I was asked by the publisher if I knew any veterans that enjoyed the sport of snowmobiling and I said, without a doubt I knew many that fit into that category. I was then asked to begin the process of picking one, just one, to highlight as a Veteran of Snowmobiling in an upcoming publication of this magazine. My mind was overflowing with friends that had made snowmobiling an active part of their lives since either retiring or being discharged from the military and came up with more than twenty, but in keeping with the original charge, needed to select only one. My pick for the first of maybe a continuing series was none other than a close friend and snowmobiling companion well known throughout the worldwide snowmobiling community… Mr. David Low of Wayland, Michigan.

David and I have been friends far longer than either of us care to remember, but we will agree that it’s been more than twenty years anyway. The first thing I can remember about our meeting was that many of the other riders in our group were calling him dad, which I felt strange doing since I was already eligible for Social Security myself. David is, in fact, ten years my senior which places him in the mid-ninety-year bracket, but to this day he still has a passion for snowmobiling that outshines the majority of other, younger enthusiasts and his riding style disguises his age quite well.

David was born in Hebron, Illinois in 1927 and says he pretty much had a normal childhood considering the turbulent times of the depression era. At just seventeen years old, he began his tour of military service during the dark years of WWII when he joined up with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944, and served honorably for two years, being discharged in 1946. Although he didn’t see combat, he says he’s thankful every day for President Truman’s decisions back then, and recounts how he was standing ready to board the troop ship for transport to the warfront with Japan when his orders were first delayed, then changed, and eventually canceled.

Once the conflicts were over and his return to civilian life was somewhat back to normal, he found work at a number of odd jobs, mostly as a salesman for various commodities, including Fuller Brush. For several years he sold baby apparel for Baby Bliss, a company that he eventually purchased, thanks to the investments of four friends and the trust of a bank for the initial outlay of funds. The years following proved to be very profitable and provided him with a comfortable lifestyle. He sold the business after just five years, however, he wasn’t ready to retire, and embarked on a few other enterprises, some successful and some not so much.

In his latest endeavor, he purchased a small number of travel trailers and opened a rental business. He says at the time renting an RV was a popular way for families to go on vacations and he always had a backlog of folks wanting to rent. Although the business has somewhat run its course in recent years due to banks offering low interest loans and most folks opting to purchase rather than rent, Lows RV Rentals is still in business today for those that wish to rent a travel trailer, but is in the hands of his son, since David has retired and is enjoying his golden years.

David Low,Veterans

David says he became interested in winter recreation quite by accident and when snowmobiles were becoming popular back in the mid to late 1970’s and when citizen band radios were popular. As his story goes, he had a small business selling electronic items and a customer wanted to trade him a snowmobile for a CB radio. He says he knew nothing about snowmobiles but he considered it a good trade and the rest is history. He says he took a ride around the yard and he was hooked. Since that first day, he has owned and ridden several different brands and models and believes all four snowmobile manufacturers today are producing a good product, but his personal preference is Ski-Doo.

From the onset David says he wanted to get involved and take part in making the sport of snowmobiling as great as he possibly could. He joined the local club in Wayland and the West Michigan Snowmobile Council and eventually served as President of both organizations, but his volunteerism didn’t end there.

David has a passion for snowmobiling that few can emulate and has distinguished himself as one of the most active volunteers the Michigan Snowmobile Association (now MISORVA) has ever known. He is tenacious in all efforts he puts forth and has served the snowmobile association and his community in numerous ways over the years, and has been recognized with many awards and accolades, including the American Legion’s Certificate of Meritorious Service and in 2007 he received the Veteran of the Year award from the City of Wayland, where he has lived most of his adult life. His military service may have been of short duration, but he is a proud veteran none the less, and he continues to serve as Commander of his local American Legion Post in Wayland, Michigan.

Other awards include, but certainly not limited to, Michigan Snowmobile Association’s 2009 Snowmobiler of the Year, that association’s Presidents Award in 2008 and again in 2015, and the Lion’s Club International Centennial Award in 2017. Most recently, David was received the American Council of Snowmobile Association’s 2019 Snowmobiler of the Year Award at the 51st International Snowmobile Congress held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He has not let his age get in the way of having fun and not only keeping pace with the pack but in some instances surpassing it. For example, when, at 87 years old he became a charter member of MichCanSka, a snowmobile club dedicated to raising funds for diabetes research and did so in 2010 when, on February 15th, fifty-four snowmobilers embarked on a 4000 mile charity ride from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to the pre-planned destination of Tok, Alaska.

David Low,Veterans

David says the journey was not an easy ride, but it was what he thought it would be the adventure of a lifetime, passing through four time zones, four states, four Canadian provinces, the Yukon Territory, and ultimately arriving in Tok on the eve of March 8th. Then Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued a Special Tribute in recognition of the club’s achievement, not only for completing such a grueling journey, but for raising more than one-hundred thousand dollars in the process.

In my recent interviews with David, I asked if that Michigan to Alaska trip was all that he had expected and he said it was, but he later took part in another MichCanSka charity ride in 2015, dubbed the “World Tour” where he and six other club members departed from Cadillac, Michigan where they logged more miles in air travel than they did on snowmobiles, but both exceeded the mileage achieved on the Michigan to Alaska ride and they passed through 12 time zones before they were done, riding through six countries including the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia finishing their “World Tour in Murmansk, Russia.

Although more-low key, David participated in a Michigan to Maine snowmobile trip with the MichCanSka group a few years ago, and he also completed a trip west in 2019 to ride the mountains from Yellowstone, Montana to Idaho, quite an accomplishment for a gent in his 90’s. He’s been called the “John Wayne of Snowmobiling” by many folks he’s encountered in all his years of snowmobiling, always with a smile and a very courteous demeanor, always willing to help in any way he can and says he’s not ready to put the sleds in mothballs just yet.

After three days of our talks, many questions and almost as many answers, we both agreed that this little bit of insight about David would have to go unfinished, not because we covered everything, but because if we tried to put his entire story in print, it would require many more pages than this magazine can offer. In fact, to cover David Low’s many years of life and all his adventures would be more volumes than those of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Maybe stretching it just a bit, but we could probably fill a shelf or two at any store around today.   

David says snowmobiling is but one chapter in his very active life and although he has had a few trips of a lifetime already, he’s still looking to find a few more. His time as a veteran is a part of his past but his time as a snowmobiler continues to just get better and better, kinda’ like that Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going!

Scroll to Top