Alick Dvirnak, 100, Killdeer, died June 14, 2019, at Hill Top Home of Comfort, Killdeer.
Funeral service for Alick will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 20, at Ladbury Funeral Service, Dickinson, with Pastor Rande Kerr officiating. Interment will follow at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Mandan. Military honors will be provided by the Dickinson American Legion Post No. 3 Honor Guard. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.
“He loved a great many things – birds and trees and books and all things beautiful; and horses and rifles and children, and hard work, and the joy of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Alick was born Jan. 25, 1919 in Dunn County, the fourth of eight children born to Jack and Mary (Sahaydak) Dvirnak. He attended his first three years of school in rural Richloam Township and when he was 10 years old. After purchasing the home place and approximately three sections of land, his parents moved their large family into the original log cabin on one of the oldest ranches in ND, the historic Diamond C Ranch, located northwest of Killdeer on the south slopes of the Killdeer Mountains.
While living on the Diamond C, Alick attended Oakdale School No. 1. Although his formal education ended in the eighth grade, he went on to learn ranching and farming from his father and Texas trail cowboys, such as Anders Madson and Sam Rhoades. Throughout his long life, Alick loved regaling his family and friends with stories of shipping cattle by train with his father from Killdeer to St. Paul, Minn., and Chicago, as well as countless colorful tales of trailing - and then herding - the Diamond C cattle to summer grazing on the Big Lease of the Fort Berthold reservation.
Not wanting to continue to make that cattle drive to the reservation every year, in 1940 the Dvirnaks leased, and later purchased, eight additional sections of land in and around the Killdeer Mountains and it was Alick’s job, along with two hired hands, to fence these sections of land. Chopping their own posts from timber on the mountains, Alick and his crew tried to string one mile of fence a week while camping out and cooking for themselves over a campfire at night.
A member of the Greatest Generation, Alick served in the U.S. Army during WWII with Company G of the 20th Infantry from 1941 to 1944. Upon receiving an honorable medical discharge, he returned home to the Diamond C to continue ranching with his father and brother. On Sept. 25, 1949, Alick married Grayce Bovkoon at the Baptist Church in Max. For the next 43 years, they lived on the Diamond C where they farmed, ranched and reared their family of six children before retiring to Dickinson in 1992 and turning the ownership and operation of the Diamond C over to their son, Craig, and his wife, Rhonda, who now, as the third generation of the Dvirnak family, still own and operate this historic family ranch.
Alick was truly a remarkable person, a voracious reader and a lifelong learner, a man with many and varied interests, a kind, humble, modest and self-effacing man of great integrity but, above all, a man of prayer and of a deep, profound and abiding Christian faith. He was a man who lived his faith in his daily life.
In 1988 he was recognized by the N.D. Natural Science Society for his contributions to the preservation of natural sciences on his ranch. In 1989, Governor Sinner recognized him for his contributions to the State of N.D. and the conservation of its natural resources. In 1994, the Dickinson Roughrider Commission named Alick “Rancher of the Year." In 2008, in honor and recognition of his lifetime achievement and contributions as a rancher and cattleman, Alick was inducted into the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Alick enjoyed studying both U.S. military and Indian history and spent his life collecting Indian artifacts on the ranch and the Killdeer Mountains. In 2008, he and his wife, Grayce, donated this entire collection of approximately 1,500 historical artifacts to the Foundation at Dickinson State University, citing “the family's desire to share the collection with the public and preserve the history and heritage of western North Dakota.” Alick and Grayce were frequently recognized locally and regionally for these efforts and repeatedly honored by many individuals and groups, including various Native American tribes, for their gracious hospitality and contribution to the effort to remember those who fought and died in the 1864 Battle of the Killdeer Mountain, which took place on what is now a part of the Diamond C.
Though a man of few words, Alick was a gifted story teller and will long be remembered by those who knew and loved him for his incomparable stories; the bedtime stories to his young children, stories of his own childhood, of life on the Diamond C, of running cattle on the Big Lease, of piloting his own Piper Cub, of his days in both the Civilian Conservation Corp and the Army, and of hunting and fishing on the Diamond C and throughout North America, tales which never ceased to captivate, entertain and delight his listeners. It was this keen, vivid and remarkable memory of his life’s experiences, as well as his unsurpassed and extraordinary ability to recount and weave these experiences into memorable and indelible stories which now ensures that Alick lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who loved him.
Alick led a rich and fulfilling life and in retirement he and Grayce traveled extensively throughout the United States as well as Spain, North Africa, Russia, Ukraine, China and Mexico. In 2002, Alick and Grayce moved to Fruita, Colo., living there until Grayce’s death in 2012, after which Alick returned home to N.D., living first in Bismarck and later in Killdeer where he resided until his death.
Deeply devoted to his family, his life revolved around being a husband, a father and a grandfather, as well as his love of history, the Diamond C, ranching and ranch life. He leaves to cherish his memory and mourn his passing two daughters, Diane Dvirnak and Lucinda (David) Schultz; four sons, Bryan (Cynthia), Craig (Rhonda), David (Kristin), and Dwight (Gaye); six grandchildren, one step grandchild and eight great grandchildren; sisters, Alice Starnes and Nettie Maxwell; and brother, George Dvirnak. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Grayce; grandsons, Brett Dvirnak and Nathan Carson; parents, Jack and Mary Dvirnak; brothers, Albert, Elmer and John Dvirnak; and sister, Kathryn Lynch.
Memorials may be made to Camp Bentley, 698 Highway 52 East, Drake ND 58736; The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, PO Box 137, Medora, ND 58645-0137; or charity of own choice.