Harlan J. Dirks
Mon, 07/03/2017 - 5:04pm admin
Harlan Dirks was born and raised in Madison, S.D., the seventh of nine children to George and Stella Dirks. He grew up on the family’s lakeside farm and attended South Dakota State University, graduating in 1949.
Thereafter, he worked for the South Dakota Extension Service until 1960 when he returned to SDSU to complete his master’s degree. He continued his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and received a doctorate in agricultural economics in 1963, after which he returned to SDSU as a member of the teaching and research faculty.
In 1966, Harlan was appointed to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. His foreign work included diplomatic assignments to Denmark, Norway, Australia, the Soviet Union, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Along with his family, Harlan lived 16 years abroad, serving his country as a United States diplomat.
During his many years with the Foreign Agricultural Service he received several awards for outstanding work in market development and reporting from his foreign assignments. In 1973, Harlan was selected to participate in the elite one-year Senior Seminar in U.S. Foreign Policy sponsored by the State Department. He retired with distinction from the Foreign Service in 1991 and lived in Washington, D.C. In 2013, he moved with his wife, Delphia, to Riderwood Retirement Village in Silver Spring, Md.
Harlan’s hobbies included golf, hiking, travel, watching sports and listening to country & western music. In high school, Harlan was an outstanding basketball player, earning an athletic scholarship to university. Later in life, Harlan was a regular patron of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. He always enjoyed his frequent trips back to South Dakota to see his many relatives and friends.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Delphia Bielmaier, of Wall; his son, David, of Rockville, Md.; daughter, Angela (Ronald Dooley) of New York City; and two grandchildren, Theresa Jane and Benjamin Harlan Dooley. All of Harlan’s siblings preceded him in death.
Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday, July 7, at Saint Patrick’s Church in Wall, followed by burial of ashes in the Wall Cemetery.