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I’ll start this week by wishing all of you a Merry Christmas. And probably a Happy New Year! Twas two nights before Christmas as I write this.

It is with some regret, and also some relief, that I am letting you know that I am going to retire from writing my weekly column. No, it’s not something you did. It’s just that I don’t do as much as I used to and I don’t want to have to make anything up or exaggerate anything. That is how I roll. Well, maybe a little.

I started writing a weekly column for the McKenzie County Farmer and the Dunn County Herald in 1982. When I wrote a legislative report weekly. When my ten-year sentence in the Senate was done, Mike Dwyer from the ND Water Association asked me to continue writing a monthly column for their magazine. And then weekly papers began to pick it up. That’s a lot of columns ago.

I want to thank all of these papers, and most importantly, all of you readers. We went to a lot of places together. I’ve traveled with you from Alaska to Mexico. We’ve been to the ocean. We’ve been to the sea (thank you Ian Tyson). We’ve chased wild cows and chased bucking horses through the badlands. We’ve penned wild pigs and hunted for the thirty-point buck. I’ve traveled with you to the Sturgis Bike Rally and the Silver Dollar Bar. You’ve helped me chain up a pickup that was hanging over a washout, and you’ve ridden with me when I picked up hitchhikers that I probably shouldn’t have. You’ve gone to Houston with me on hotshot runs and celebrated many holidays with my family and friends. You’ve been with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve been together on icy roads, prairie fires, and more blizzards than I care to remember.

You’ve met a lot of my close friends over the years. Some you’ve helped me lay to rest, and some are still my closest friends. I thank you for understanding and allowing me to share my life, and theirs with you.

I guess mostly I have to thank Shirley. I don’t know how many times we have been at a nice supper, dressed up for the occasion, and meet someone at our table and make introductions. Their response when meeting Shirley was invariably, “You are that Shirley! You are not what I expected!” As I’ve told you before, she does clean up pretty good.

There have been countless Monday mornings when I start out the door and hear Shirley holler, “Don’t forget to write your column!” Dang.

It’s been a fun and interesting ride. Don’t cancel your subscription to your paper. They need you and we need them. And if I venture out and rope a wild cow by the hind leg and get drug through the brush, I am still going to send it to your paper and tell you about the rope burns I got. But I’m not letting go of the rope. That’s how cowboys are.

And as George Strait said, “This is where the cowboy rides away.”

Maybe it wasn’t George. But I remember hearing it.

Later, Dean


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