John Deuback—Dallas’ onetime skate king—lived a long, impactful life

Keepsake from Deuback Skate Rink. Photo courtesy Jim Cox

John Deuback, once a household name in Dallas, died May 18 at age 96.

Deuback was a competitive skater as a child and teenager, before WWII, and later owned the Deuback Skating Rink.

In the 1940s-70s the region around Greenville-Royal was known as Vickery (now it would be considered Lake Highlands), and the place to be was Deuback Skating Rink, located at 7800 Greenville Ave.

Back in 1939, a young John Deuback, whose parents owned the rink, was one of our city’s top skaters, according to a 1939 Dallas Morning News article. He won a race against Dallas’ champion speed skater, but not the official championship race, held that year at Fair Park.

The rink burned to the ground in 1956, causing an $80,000 loss to the uninsured business, not to mention serious injuries to John, who crawled around the burning second floor searching for his 9-year-old son, John Ronald Deuback. Against the odds, John and his wife managed to rebuild a larger and improved Deuback Skating Rink by 1957, and it remained open into the 1970s.

Deuback would face more tough times, also documented by the Morning News: Flooding always has been problematic in the area. A 1966 article describes two firemen clinging to trees near Deuback Skating Rink after raging creek waters carried off their station wagon and equipment.

In 1971, John Deuback watched helplessly from his home/business as a woman and her child were swept away in White Rock Creek floodwaters. A young man who attempted to rescue them also drowned in the deluge.

The incident infuriated Deuback because, he said at the time, he had previously pleaded with the city to provide emergency relief to the flood-prone area.

Deuback said he suggested in letters and conversations with officials that a 400-foot channel be cut to straighten the creek and eliminate a bottleneck downstream from Greenville, which causes backup water,” according to a Dallas Morning News article. ‘If I had been successful,’ he told reporters, ‘I am confident three people would still be alive.’

The city retorted that his plan was ineffective and that they had a better idea — to widen the roadway and expand the bridge near the rink — which would be carried out sometime around 1975.

John’s daughter Carolyn Deuback in 1963 was crowned homecoming queen at North Texas State University, and she won the Miss Richardson competition in ’64. Her talent? Skating, of course.

You can read the rest of this story here.

One of the Deuback family members emailed over the weekend to let me know about John’s death.

According to his obituary, Deuback’s family—when he was a boy and before the rink—”owned a general store, rented cottages and sold a variety of animals.”

John remained married to wife Jean for more than 70 years, until her death. The couple had moved to Bowie, Texas years ago and opened a skating rink there.

His funeral took place this morning before he was laid to rest at Restland Cemetery, where wife Jean also is buried.

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