Posted: June 23rd, 2016

Obit photo-AlDirk
June 3, 1932 ~ June 21, 2016

Understanding of his decision to let his chronic illness follow through to its conclusion and with gratitude his life passed in the Palliative Unit’s compassionate care, the family of Aloysius “Al” Barnabas Charles Dirk announce his death on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at age 84. Like so many Medicine Hatters, Al was born in Saskatchewan— June 3, 1932 at Prelate to be exact—to John and Ermelia “Erma” (nee Volk). Though moving with his family to various small towns in that province as well as a staying a short time in Kelowna, British Columbia, Al eventually came to call this city in south-eastern Alberta his hometown. Sixth of eight siblings, Al was born after five sisters: Mary (Frank) Rissling, Katherine “Kay” (Frank) Tarnoczi, Anne (Jack) Marshall, Rose (Arnie) Hall, and Theresa “Terry” (Mike) Wickenheiser. Even so, they all came to look up to him as their big brother with his well loved Kay continuing to hold him in that regard as his sole surviving sister. Lorraine (Cameron “Cob”) Bliss, his one younger sister, predeceased him. Jerome (Dianne) Dirk, his only and younger brother, also survives him. Having so many sisters and brothers, who married and started their own families meant Al also became an uncle to a plethora of nieces and nephews, many, we daresay, coming to regard him as their favorite. Al met Jeanne (nee Svihura) and they were married on May 3, 1958, thus celebrating their fifty-eighth anniversary together. In addition to all those wonderful years, their marriage meant Al gained a brother-in-law, Ed Svihura, and a sister-in-law Mary Ann ”Merc” (Peter) Weigel, the latter becoming especially cherished, owing to her evolving friendship and assistance as his health declined. Al not only had a partner for life in Jeanne, but with such a large number of relations, all of whom loved to play cards, ready competitors for a pastime he loved most dearly. Foursomes met at one another’s houses nearly every weekend to enjoy all sorts of games. However, Al came to enjoy bridge the most, finding all aspects stimulating though relishing even more the camaraderie, especially annual New Year’s Eve tournaments, begrudgingly interrupted at midnight for a short celebration and then eagerly resumed until the wee hours of the morning. Al and Jeanne were also blessed to become parents to five children: Marcel (Andrea) Dirk, Douglas “Doug” (Bonnie) Dirk, Roger (Carol) Dirk, Kathleen “Kathy” Dirk, and Lynnette (Bruce Downie) Dirk. To them all, he was a wonderful father and father-in-law, earning their respect for instilling and demonstrating strong, liberal values; allowing their own choices in life and accepting them; and, more than anything else, possessing and passing on a wide ranging sense of humour, whether it be delivering jokes or unleashing good natured joshings. Al and Jeanne also became grandparents to two grandchildren: Emmalee Dirk and Pierson Dirk. For the former, Grandpa extended his lunch hour or shortened his work day on Mondays and Fridays to babysit her along with Jeanne; for the latter, Papa Al crafted rocking horses and other toys as well as provided woodworking tools to encourage a young fellow’s hammering, nailing, screwing, and sawing. Largely on account of his approval of providing opportunities and experiences for his own children, Al always volunteered to instruct and encourage many others. Perhaps the highlight was his leading involvement in the Cub car races. Not only did he assist young builders to craft cars out of blocks of wood but he also constructed the track they raced on and officiated, with the help of his wife and daughters, the annual rally. Though he never sought any sort of credit for efforts, he undoubtedly deserved some for the inspiration and joy provided over the years to all those youngsters. Al also was a volunteer at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, singing in the choir and serving on its Building Committee, and for the Knights of Columbus, assisting at bingos and penny carnivals. In his later years, he undertook delivering Meals On Wheels, a volunteer activity combined with his enjoyment of driving. Habitat for Humanity also benefited from his willingness to help as he employed his carpentry skills to contribute to more than one of their projects. Those self-acquired skills as an exceptional finish carpenter were the hallmarks of his working life. Starting in the trade before there was any notion of pre-fabs, he was an expert cabinet maker. Very few could eye a four-by-eight sheet and without measuring twice, but only cutting once turn it into the necessary components for a set of kitchen cupboards or a bathroom vanity. Many of Medicine Hat homes likely still contain Al Dirk handiwork as it was built to last. Al also was an exceptionally quick worker. Without braggadocio, he could complete a house’s interior long before his contemporaries. That work ethic led many construction firms and homebuilders to seek him out as their finish carpenter of choice, not just for the houses they were building for the market but also as their dream homes. The appreciation from them for a job well done meant a lot to Al; the friendships established with folks who wanted him for their projects meant even more. Though he often complained about the aches and pains created by a career in sawdust and bemoaned how much he detested renovations—he always said putting in the smallest upgrade would inevitably lead to a complete makeover—when he finished any job, he was truly proud of the great work he had done. Indeed, in his retirement, though he thought he was done with his tools, he could not stop using the band saw and sander in his garage, making those wooden toys and now puzzles for his own grandchildren and many others for relatives’ and friends’ children with the same attention to detail. This summation of his life’s activities would likely leave Al uncomfortable for he always thought of himself as just an average guy. However, we, the surviving wife, sons, and daughters of Al Dirk want to leave this short, written record of the truly wonderful accomplishments of a big brother, devoted husband, wonderful father and grandfather, unselfish volunteer, and hardworking man. Let history recognize more of his sort. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Family Parish, 1451 Strachan Road S.E., Medicine Hat on Friday, June 24, 2016, at 11:00 a.m., with Reverend Father Albert Sayson celebrant. The interment to follow at Hillside Cemetery. Those who wish to remember Al may do so through a donation to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, 6007 – 1A Street S.W., Calgary, Alberta, T2H 0G5. (Condolences may be expressed by visiting our website at Honoured to serve the family is

Cook Southland Funeral Chapel, 901 – 13th Street S.W. Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 4V4 Phone 403-527-6455

One Condolence for “ALOYSIUS ‘AL’ DIRK”

  1. Dennis Sehn says:

    Roger, Carol and the rest of the Dirk family.
    Our sincere condolences on the passing of your father.
    I will always remember Mr. Dirk as my “Cub Scouts” Leader.
    He was a friendly, kind and gentle man.

    Dennis and Toni Sehn

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