Dirks family establishes scholarship endowment
The family of Dakota State alumnus Larry Dirks recently set up an endowment in his memory to provide scholarships for student athletes. Harlan J. and Delphia B. Dirks established the Lawrence W. Dirks Memorial Endowed Scholarship with a $150,000 gift. Harlan, a retired Foreign Service Officer, is Larry's brother, and lives in Washington, D.C. with wife Delphia.
"Larry's contributions to the Trojan football team are the stuff of legends among his former teammates," said Vice President for University Advancement Judy Payne. "Larry's contributions on the field will be felt by a new generation of Trojan football players through the establishment of this scholarship endowment. "
Harlan and Delphia Dirks were pleased to honor Larry's memory with the scholarship endowment. "Although he was the youngest of 8 siblings, my brother was larger than life in many ways," said Harlan. "He was a giant on the football field, but found a way to channel that competitive spirit in ways that engaged people, and forged life-long friendships. He also used this same competitive spirit to craft a successful business career."
Harlan says he and wife Delphia wanted to do something to acknowledge Larry's career as a Trojan, and help others like him who loved the game of football. We know that Larry would be proud knowing that this scholarship is also giving young athletes a chance to pursue a college education."
Dirks attended Dakota State (then General Beadle State College) from 1952-1954 and played football for the Trojans. He left college to serve in the Army in 1954, playing football for the Army team in the European Conference. One of his teammates on the Army team was NFL Hall of Famer and Green Bay Packers great Forrest Gregg. Dirks returned to General Beadle in 1956 and attended through 1958.
General Beadle alumnus Bob Nangle, '61, of Pipestone, met Dirks when he was a freshman and Larry was just back from the service. "He was the starting defensive/offensive tackle. I can remember him in the opening minutes of games when opponents ran toward him, he would stop the ball carrier and say, 'son you are not getting any yards against me, so why don't you make it easy on yourself and run the other way'." Nangle remembers Dirks as a "great teammate and a great guy."
While at General Beadle, Dirks was a standout athlete, earning several SDIC All-Conference awards. He was offered to have a tryout with the Baltimore Colts, but instead he opted to take a position with Otis Elevator Co. in Minneapolis and Denver. He returned to Madison in 1969 where he owned and operated Dirks' Resort on Lake Herman. He also farmed near there for the remainder of his life.
Dirks was a Madison native, and a graduate of General Beadle High School. In high school, Dirks was one of only three athletes in GBHS history to be a 12-letterman, meaning he lettered in three varsity sports per year, for each of his four years in high school. Fellow GBHS 12-letterman John Gross of Madison, remembers Dirks as "a tremendous, aggressive football player and great friend." Gross recalled the game GBHS played against Howard on Halloween night in 1949. At one point, Larry tipped the Howard quarterback's pass into the hands of Gross, who was mistakenly tackled by Larry's brother Lyle. Despite the mix up, GBHS went on to win the game 38-0. In 1951, Dirks senior year, the high school football team went undefeated.
The Lawrence W. Dirks Memorial Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to an incoming or returning student who is an NAIA eligible student-athlete on the DSU football team. The scholarship is renewable provided the student maintains eligibility in accordance with NAIA and DSU academic standards.