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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Obituary: Melvin A. Dirksen

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  • Melvin A. Dirksen, 81, of Denver, Colo., passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on Nov. 2, 2012. He was born on April 7, 1931, to Adolf and Martha Schmidt Dirksen in Goessel, the third of five children. He received his early education at Emma Valley Grade School in McPherson County, and in 1949, he graduated from Goessel High School. He attended Bethel College, North Newton. He married Arzella Nikkel on Oct. 18, 1953, in Goessel. She survives at their home in Denver. In 1952, he was drafted for the Korean War and served in the government alternative 1-W program, working as an orderly in the Denver General Hospital. After completing his service, he was a driver for Stearns Dairy and a milk route salesman for several years. He held other sales positions in various industries, ranging from specialized cranes to school buses throughout his career. He was 52 when he became an entrepreneur and opened Pioneer Sales and Service, selling Swedish-made Pionjar gas-powered jackhammers. It was a perfect fit for a man who enjoyed developing friendships as much as using his mechanical skills tinkering and fixing things. He continued to run his business up through the last weeks of his life, and did not let the nearly three-year struggle with Multiple Myeloma cancer force retirement. Having grown up on the family farm in Kansas, he never lost his farming roots and was passionate about restoring and fixing old tractors, particularly the one he had spent numerous hours working the fields with as a boy. He always looked back fondly and ended up collecting many tractors and full-size implements. It was a great thrill sharing these large machines with young and old admirers alike at summertime parades. The most gratifying component of his life was his family, immediate and extended, near and far. His positive outlook was most recently tested with the tragic and untimely loss of his 19-year-old grandson Evan on Sept. 9, 2012. Melvin was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Dennis A. Dirksen; and grandson, Evan James Dirksen. In addition to his wife, Arzella, he is survived by his son, Jim of Gunnison, Colo.; daughters, Jan and Kirk Williams of Castle Rock, Colo., and Suzanne and Jeff Opp of Denver; and six grandchildren, Jordan Williams of Aspen, Colo., Kristen Dirksen of Gunnison, Colo., and Alexander, Eric, Ted and Griffin Opp of Denver. He also is survived by a brother, Evan A. Dirksen of Goessel, and two sisters, Erma Gallaway of Rose Hill and Velma and Vernon Frey of Newton. A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at First Mennonite Church in Denver. Memorials are suggested in memory of Mel Dirksen to the Evan Dirksen Scholarship Find in care of account #6250782635, Wells Fargo Bank-Arapahoe Branch, 9350 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, CO 80112. 

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