The Fence Post obituary: Stuart (Stu) John Dykstra
Stuart (Stu) John Dykstra, 71
Dec. 27, 1947 – Dec. 13, 2019
Stuart (Stu) John Dykstra, age 71, of Rifle, Colo., entered into God’s heavenly kingdom on Dec. 13, 2019, at the E. Dene Moore Care Center in Rifle.
Stu was born Dec. 27, 1947, in Muscatine, Iowa, to Gerdena (Steenhoek) and John Dykstra. He was the eldest and only son in a family of four children.
Stu’s youth was spent in the farming lifestyle in southeast Iowa where he relished adventures hunting raccoons with his dogs and trapping and fishing for catfish in the Iowa River. A bright young man, he achieved straight A’s in school. Even so, he was often torn from his scholastic responsibilities by the great outdoors.
Upon graduation from Wapello, Iowa Community High School in 1966 Stu enrolled at Iowa State University majoring in electrical engineering. Not far into his collegiate pursuits his love for animals and agriculture pulled at him, whereby he changed his major to animal science, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1970. An avid young cowboy, Stu competed in collegiate roughstock rodeo events, earning the All-Iowa Amateur buckle in Solon, Iowa, in 1969. He also served in the Army Reserves as a drill instructor, achieving the rank of Sergeant First Class.
Stu married Gerrie Knapp of Morning Sun, Iowa, on July 19, 1969. After a brief stint back home the couple departed Iowa in search of a new beginning in the western ranching frontier. An inquiry at the local livestock auction in Rifle led to the couple making their new home on Divide Creek, south of Silt, Colo. It was there that Stu immersed himself in the cowboy life working for Colonel Barr. Two sons were soon born to the couple, John Robert Dykstra and Paul Stuart Dykstra.
Following full-time ranching Stu expanded his horizons to the oil shale industry with employment at Paraho in the Anvil Points area near Parachute, Colo., where he spent many years. Upon the closing of Paraho, Stu subsequently applied his resourcefulness and ingenuity at American Soda and Concrete Equipment Supply, both companies located on Colorado’s Western Slope.
On Oct., 25, 1985, Stu married Kathy Reilly Houlihan, formerly of Denver. The two spent 34 years of companionship enjoying their country life. Workers by nature, Stu and Kathy would most often catch up in the evening just in time to feed the dogs and get supper on the table before bed. More recently they enjoyed Sunday coffee with friends and worship at St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Castle, Colo., where they found great companionship and shared faith.
Regardless of where he spent his workdays, Stu always pursued his passion for livestock. He was a compassionate stockman with an equal dose of love for cattle, horses and dogs. He spent several years as an active member and leader of the Rocky Mountain Draft Horse Association where he mentored inexperienced draft horse enthusiasts. His sons will forever remember the many hours spent with their dad feeding cows from a hay rack pulled by a matched team of black Percheron horses. A portion of Stu’s cattle legacy and his “S Bar Lazy D” brand have transferred into the hands of his two grandchildren.
An avid reader, Stu devoured books by the fireplace on countless winter evenings. He favored learning from the life experiences of the old-timers most of all.
Stu’s friends and acquaintances remember him as a kind, humble, unassuming man. He built to any situation with a measured, calm demeanor, instilling confidence in those nearby. His appreciation for the old ways brought a realism to the adage that he was, indeed, “born 100 years too late.”
Stuart is survived by his wife Kathy, his two sons John (Heather) Dykstra of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Paul (Alisa) Dykstra of Chappell, Neb., and step-daughter Lori (Paul) Akahoshi of San Bernardino, Calif., sisters Sherry (Bob) Lindsay of Bettendorf, Iowa, Linda (Gary) Neymeyer of Bella Vista, Ark., Marcia (Craig) Miller of Austin, Texas, grandchildren Rhett and Rheo Dykstra of Chappell, Neb., Kaida Akahoshi of San Bernardino, Calif.
Cremation has taken place and a graveside service at Divide Creek cemetery will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to E. Dene Moore Care Center, 701 E. 5th, Rifle, CO 81650 or Valley View Foundation, P.O. Box 1970, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602.
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