To Dave Audette, an easygoing man who had seen combat in World War II, working nights at an all-night convenience store hardly seemed dangerous.
What if you’re held up? his older brother, Larry, had asked.
“I’d give them the money,” Dave Audette had said with a shrug.
There are so many robberies, why don’t you quit your job? asked his sister-in-law, Jenny.
“What am I going to do?” he had told her, “I have to have money to live.”
Another brother, Melvin, had told him that working in the store was worse than driving an armored car.
Dave Audette had laughed it off.
“Dave was never scared of anything,” Melvin Audette recalled Wednesday. “He just never worried about it. He never thought it would happen to him.”
Shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday [December 30, 1990], Audette, 68, was shot and killed during a robbery at the PDQ store at 7701 Portland Ave. S., Richfield. Two men and a boy were charged yesterday in the robbery and murder.
It stunned a large Twin Cities family, whose members remembered Audette yesterday as a gregarious man who cared about his relatives, loved to hunt and fish and play horseshoes and seemed oblivious to the danger of night duty at a convenience store.
“He’d been through two heart attacks and World War II,” said a nephew, Mark Audette. “He was a tough guy. He wouldn’t worry about being robbed.”
Funeral services will be held today for Audette, who recently had gone full-time at the PDQ store to supplement his Social Security income. He lived in Brooklyn Center.
“He was a hell of a nice guy,” said Melvin Audette. “For him to be snuffed out like that is something I can’t understand. We did so many things together all our lives.”
One of 13 brothers and sisters, Dave Audette grew up in north Minneapolis and graduated from North High School. His mother was a maid who had worked at the old Nicollet Hotel. His father worked for a firm that made instant coffee.
Shortly after high school, and not yet 20 years old, Audette enlisted in the Marine Corps, one of six brothers to serve in World War II. He was part of the Fourth Marine Regiment, which fought in the Pacific, and served at Guadalcanal and Guam.
“He was in combat several times,” Larry Audette said. “He’d go on patrol. A couple of times he hardly made it back.”
After the war, Dave Audette became a salesman, later going to work for Pavo Co., a health-foods firm where Larry was an executive. Dave rose to vice president, retiring in the mid-1980s. But he lost his pension after the company was sold and he took on odd jobs to make ends meet.
Relatives said he was happy when he recently was hired full-time by PDQ after working part-time there.
“When you’re 68, you can’t have any job you want,” Melvin Audette said.
Three days after the shooting, Dave’s death remains a bitter puzzle to his family.
“He was the nicest person,” said Jenny Audette, “He wouldn’t hurt a soul…His kids are devastated. They are real sick about it.”
In the aftermath of Audette’s shooting, the PDQ store has decided to close at 1 a.m. and reopen at 5 a.m., staying closed during the shift Audette worked. Manager David Griffiths said the store will continue to staff the other shifts with two employees, as it had done before the shooting. The early-morning shift was the only one when at least two people were not working.
Several customers have asked Griffiths to put out canisters for collections for the Audette family.
“It was something the community wanted to do,” he said. “The response has been super.”
Audette, who was divorced, is survived by three sons, four daughters, eight grandchildren, two sisters and five brothers.
“He was the kind of guy who could walk up and talk to a perfect stranger like he was an old friend,” Melvin Audette said. “He was just the type of guy that liked people…How could something like this happen?”