My tall, dark, and handsome great grandfather, John Oliver Ness, was known as the “Land Man.” He would sell the dream of a North Dakota Homestead becoming a wonderful home, place to prosper and raise your family, to bright eyed full of hope and adventurous immigrants in Chicago.
His selling of the “little house on the prairie” dream would begin in the winter. Then they would set off by wagon train in the spring. The year for him would end in the fall with his return to Chicago alone, or sometimes by leading any failed homesteaders back to Chicago where they began years before.
He married a beautiful daughter of a client, Alice, of a Scottish family. Their lives were hard on the prairie. One of their daughters, Thelma Ness, my grandmother, had a strong pioneering spirit like her parents. She won a national art contest. Her prize? A full art scholarship to Normal State Teachers College, later to become Western Michigan University.
Off she went alone to a far away place called Kalamazoo. She fell in love and married a tall football player, Willis S Diller. He opened his real estate office in 1927. Their son, my father, Jon Willis Diller was a giant of a man. A full 7 feet tall. Known as “Big” Jon, he joined Diller Real Estate in 1957. My first job at age 11 was sorting property cards in his office on Westnedge.
I became a Realtor in 1980, my husband joined me in 1987. Our son Jon Doorlag and his wife, Sarah, sell Real Estate with us at Doorlag Realty company today. Real Estate is truly in our blood! We want to put generations of experience to work for you! We love seeing people’s dreams come true and always have — for generations.
— Becky Doorlag