Posted 7/03/13 (Wed)
By Olivia Sundeen
“Let’s run away to North Dakota.”
Whenever they felt stressed or just needed to get away, this is what Ron Rankin and his wife, Dee, would say to each other during their dating years.
“It’s kind of ironic,” stated Rankin, who recently retired as sheriff of McKenzie County. “We had never been to North Dakota, yet for some reason we both wanted to escape there. Now we couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
In 1984, Ron and his wife stumbled upon North Dakota, or maybe fate had something to do with it. Rankin, who was an M.P. and Criminal Investigator for the United States Marine Corps, had just finished his last duty station in Hawaii. It was time to settle down and see what life had to offer.
“We had never lived somewhere more than two or three years,” stated Rankin. “Ever since I was a child I knew I wanted to have a career in law enforcement, so it seemed fitting to get involved in a police department somewhere.”
Rankin applied to various police departments around the United States. He wanted to find a position with a sheriff’s department because he didn’t want to live in the city. According to Rankin, he was set on going to the state of Washington, but he still ended up sending a resume to Watford City.
“We had never been here,” stated Rankin. “On our way from Ohio, where we were living at the time, to Washington, we decided to swing through Watford City. All the way from Montana to Washington my wife cried. She liked Watford that much.”
Rankin was offered the job in Washington and in Watford City, but as the theory goes, the man is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck.
“My wife wanted me to take the job here,” stated Rankin. “You can see where we ended up. But honestly, it was the best decision. Once we got here it felt like home.”
For 22 years, Rankin served with Watford City’s Police Department. According to Rankin, working with a police department comes with a lot of enmity.
“You see people going by, but they are just faces,” stated Rankin. “But in Watford City, I got to know everybody. This made working here so much easier.”
In 2006, Rankin decided to run for McKenzie County Sheriff and was elected. He served six and a half years and was on his second term when he put in his resignation.
“It’s time to retire,” stated Rankin. “I would’ve stayed and finished out my second term if I thought I could’ve gave 100 percent to the position.
In the last three years, Rankin has had to fight a relentless battle with cancer. Unfortunately, Rankin’s love for his job wasn’t enough.
“Due to my health and age, I just can’t do my job as sheriff,” stated Rankin. “The county deserves better than that.”
With the population increasing, Rankin has had his hands full with increased crime as well as his health issues. According to Rankin, it is a challenging time for the sheriff’s department.
“I loved going to work each day, but it’s time to be done,” stated Rankin.
On Monday, July 1, a retirement party was held for Rankin. He now leaves his position and law enforcement duties to his fellow deputies.
“I am very comfortable with John Fulwider, taking over my position,” stated Rankin. “He has 35 years of experience and is very capable of handling the position of sheriff.”
Confident that he has left his position in capable hands, Rankin is ready to relax. That being said, this week’s plans include sleeping in and golfing.
“I am 66 after all,” stated Rankin. “My wife and I have enjoyed all of our time here. We raised four kids and we couldn’t have asked for a better home. It’s time for me to retire and just enjoy golfing and spending time with my wife, our kids and grandkids.”