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Co-creator of Dilly Bar dies at 90

Phyllis Litherland, right, co-founded the Moorhead Dairy Queen with her husband, Bob, in 1949. She died Sunday, Aug. 12, at her daughter's home in Chicago at the age of 90. Courtesy of Moorhead Dairy Queen

MOORHEAD — The woman who co-founded the iconic Moorhead Dairy Queen and had a hand in creating the world-famous Dilly Bar has died.

Phyllis Litherland died Sunday, Aug. 12, in her daughter’s home in Chicago at the age of 90.

Phyllis and Bob Litherland established the downtown Moorhead Dairy Queen in 1949, among the franchise’s earliest restaurants in the nation. The couple is also often credited for the creation of the Dilly Bar.

According to Troy and Diane DeLeon, the owners of the eatery since 1995, Bob and Phyllis married in 1948 after Bob’s military service in World War II. They invested in a downtown Moorhead property during his service and looked for a business to start.

The Litherlands opened the Dairy Queen on Aug. 1, 1949. To make ends meet, they lived in the back room of the store. Before they could open for the 1950 season, the Army called Bob back for service in the Korean War. Phyllis, pregnant with their first daughter, managed the business by herself that year while also taking care of their 1-year old.

“If it weren’t for Phyllis, the store would not have survived,” Diane DeLeon said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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