Gary Dean Dirksen, 73 of Pella, died April 27, 2021 at Pella Regional Hospital. A memorial service will be held June 19 at the Central College Chapel followed by a gathering at the Graham Center on campus.
Gary was born Sept. 5, 1947 in Hampton to Jelto and Margaret Pals Dirksen. He attended school through junior high in Alexander and graduated from CAL Community High School in 1965. He attended Central College, and after graduating in 1969, accepted a position as an admissions representative for the college. He was employed in that office for ten years, then left as Associate Director to become the Director of Student Financial Assistance. He held that position for 15 years during which time he was actively involved in the Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. For several years he was a member of the State of Iowa Advisory Board, on the Board of IASFAA, and chaired several committees for the association. In addition, he was a presenter at several state and midwest conventions. He was the recipient of the IASFAA Distinguished Service Award and was honored to be recognized as a lifetime member of the association.
Following his tenure as Student Financial Assistance Director, he was asked by the college to establish a new office and assume the role as Coor- dinator of Institutional Research. He held that position for three years until his departure from Central College at the age of 50.
He then founded a private research company which he operated for four years until he decided that retirement and traveling was more fun than working. A few of his clients were the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, the IASFAA, the Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation, and several community and private colleges around the midwest.
Gary was very civic minded and believed strongly in community service. He was a Central Club board member for 15 years, serving as president for nine, was a member of the Pella Community Foundation’s “Leave a Legacy” project, was a founding board member of Pella Dollars for Scholars, and established and endowed the Dollars for Scholars Gary Dirksen Service Award. He also established and endowed through the college a men’s and women’s varsity basketball achievement award honoring a student athlete who not only excelled on the basketball court , but also in the classroom and who was involved in projects throughout the campus and community. In addition, he endowed through the college the Gary Dirksen Community Service Scholarship which recognizes a student who was actively involved in local community service projects during their high school years as well as remaining active in college and community service.
He was a member of the President’s Associates Committee/President’s Breakfast Club, was the recipient of the Presidential Service Award, and served as a member of the Campaign Cabinet/Project Steering Committee for the Campaign for Central Phase II, which dealt with the track/field/stadium replacement project.
Gary was a member of the board of directors of the Pella Community Foundation, was a charter member of the Pella Regional Health Center Foundation’s Legacy Society, was a board member and served as treasurer of the Pella Hospital Foundation, and was a charter member of the Central Red Society.
He was a founding member of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and a founding member of the Foundation’s 1854 Society. In addition, he was a volunteer at the Iowa State Fair for many years.
For many years, Gary volunteered during Tulip Time as a motorcoach and Central Park Welcome Windmill greeter, and also at the men’s basketball brat stand.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father; oldest brother Donovan and his spouse Jeanette.
He is survived by sister Alberta (Loren) Kalkwarf of Garner; and brother Ronald (Dorothy) of North Canton, OH.