Posted 8/15/18 (Wed)
John Darby Kirkland, 93, of Watford City, N.D., passed away early Tuesday morning, Aug. 7, 2018 at the McKenzie County Health Center in Watford City surrounded by his family.
John D. Kirkland was born June 22, 1925, in Billings, Mont., to Leigh and Ruth (Risser) Kirkland. John was the oldest of seven children.
In 1927, Leigh, Ruth and John went to visit Ruth’s ailing father in Hershey, Pa., and at that time never returned to Montana or North Dakota. John grew up and was educated in the Dillsburg, Pa area. In 1942 at the age of 17 he returned to North Dakota to work for his uncles, ElmerRisser and Ben Risser, who homesteaded in the Croff/Keene area. John also attended the Watford City High School when he had returned to N.D. In 1945 he was drafted into the army during World War II. John proudly served his country stationed in Italy. Upon discharge he and a friend went to work at the Musselman’s Apple Factory in Biglerville, Pa., and later worked at the Carlisle Army Base in Carlisle, Pa. However, North Dakota was once again calling to him and he returned to his uncle’s ranch.
In 1949, he met Cleo Selleseth, daughter of Iver and Mary (Sivertson) Selleseth of Berg,N.D. Married on December 10, 1950, they have shared nearly 70 years of living life to the fullest. They were married at the Clear Creek Church Lutheran Church, Keene, N.D. After a honeymoon to the southwest states they were back at the Risser Ranch. A highlight that happened while they were away on their honeymoon and greeted them when they returned were the yard lights shining across the country side from the newly installed Rural Electrification! John & Cleo remained on their beloved ranch until their move to Watford City in 2008.
John loved his Diamond R Ranch and was a true conservationist and cattleman with planting trees, sowing the crops and of course the love for his Black Angus cattle. If you ever had the chance to visit with John you may have learned something about apples trees, Italy, Pennsylvania or anywhere in the United States (for that matter!), farming or raising beef cattle. John always had a story; he loved to share about his travels (which were many!), his army days, farming and raising cattle, and his grandchildren or simply about living life.
John was a past member and council representative of Faith Lutheran Church, Keene, N.D; member of the First Lutheran Church of Watford City; member of 50 Years in the Saddle; member of the American Legion; and member of the Watford City Livestock Association. Also, for many years, John served as the McKenzie County Representative on the Regional Advisory Council for the Northwest Human Service Center.
John is survived by his loving wife Cleo; daughters, Jan and husband Cameron Dodge (Keene, N.D.) and Jeri and husband Michael Rhodes (Littleton, Colo.); son, John Darrel Kirkland and wife Leigh Ann (Watford City, N.D). Grandchildren, Cami and husband Michael Lamm (Vienna, Austria), Cari and husband Justin Forbes (Watford City, N.D.), Ben Rhodes and Davis Rhodes (Littleton, Colo.), Cody Kirkland and Rylee Kirkland (Watford City, N.D.); and Great-Grandchildren Linnea Lamm, Aanon Lamm, William Forbes, Seth Forbes, Levi Forbes; special friend, Paul Fraley and wife Brenda, Paige, Trent and Kinley; special friend, and buddy William Graham; his brothers and sisters, Genevieve, Douglas, Merle, Darlene, Kermit (Jim) and Ruth.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Leigh and Ruth; special uncles, Elmer Risser and Ben Risser; and numerous other aunts and uncles.
His funeral service was held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, at First Lutheran Church in Watford City. Pastor Rob Favorite officiated and burial with military honors was held at the Johnson Corners Cemetery, east of Watford City.