Cupid ‘blind’ sided this couple

Posted February 15, 2018 at 5:41 pm

j Dick and Helen Dirks.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

It was a blind date that’s lasted 67 years for Helen (Donnelly) and Dick Dirks of Akron.

“I went to Elk Point with a friend of mine who was dating her girlfriend,” said Dick, who didn’t remember what they did on this blind date.

“I gave her a ride home that night,” he said, explaining she lived in Elk Point.

“Her personality” was what attracted Dick to Helen.

“My wife’s always been a live wire — had a mind of her own and I respected that,” said Dick.

“It was him that was attracted to me,” laughed Helen, admitting she liked him, too. “He was nice to me and polite. I just thought he was a nice man, a nice boyfriend.”

“She treated me good and was a nice lady,” added Dick. “We were attracted to each other.”

Dick was a college student at Iowa State University in the Navy Reserves program, and Helen was studying at the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.

Their long distance relationship was made easier as there was a guy attending USD whose girlfriend attended ISU, said Dick. Helen rode with the gentleman to Ames and the girl rode to Vermillion with Dick.

At Christmas time of their senior year of college, Dick was notified he was going to be called to active duty as soon as he graduated.

“So Helen and I got married,” said Dick, explaining there were six or seven couples who married at the time. “We weren’t supposed to be married until we graduated so we couldn’t tell anybody.”

Once Dick received his commission, he was sent to the New York City area. Helen joined him and they set up a home in Bayonne across from Manhattan, NY.

Their first child, Carla, was born there but soon Dick was sent to Bremerton, Wash., where the ship he was assigned to was “in moth balls.”

When his ship went to San Diego, Calif., the Dirks moved there. After just a few months, Dick headed out to Korea, and Helen returned home, living with his and her parents until Dick was discharged.

“After my discharge we came back to Akron,” said Dick, “and we’ve lived here ever since.”

In 1953, Dick joined his father in the family business, Dirks Motor Company, where he worked more than 60 years.

“I’ve never had any desire to live any place else,” he said. “We lived in the cities and they are nice to visit but it’s pretty hard to beat this part of the country — even when you’re freezing your pants off and roasting in the summer time.”

The couple enjoyed dancing — as much as two or three times a week in the summer time. They also played Bridge and other card games.

“We’ve enjoyed traveling around the world,” said Dick, noting they’d been to the Far East and Europe several times. “We’ve been to every state in the country, too. I was very fortunate I was in a business where I could win a lot of trips that took us a lot of places.”

The Dirks raised four children who all settled in this area: Carla Granstrom; Mary (Mike) Caskey; Rick (Robin) Dirks, and Dave (Ellen) Dirks. They have nine grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“It’s been a very happy marriage,” said Dick.

With a sense of humor, he added, “We used to joke we would have been divorced several times but neither one of us wanted the kids so we had to stay together.”

“We’ve had a good life together,” said Dick who will be 89 years old this year.

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