Dean Conklin, formerly of Rollins, Montana, passed away January 6, 2021, in Albuquerque, NM. He was born in Huron, SD on August 22, 1936, the firstborn son of Rev. and Mrs. C.L. Conklin who were both ordained ministers. Dean lived in South Dakota until his junior year of high school, when his family moved to Montana. He graduated from Custer County High School in Miles City in 1954. Dean attended college in Missouri for one year. He had to return home to help support his family when his father developed rheumatic fever and could no longer work.
Dean married Marlene Langdon in 1956 and they had two daughters. He attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD while working as a sports writer for the Argus Leader newspaper. The family then moved to Des Moines, IA so that Dean could attend Drake University. While there he worked for the Des Moines Register and Tribune. He graduated from Drake with a masters degree in political science. Over the years he worked in many different places starting with Fargo, ND for the Associated Press; then back to Des Moines for the Register and Tribune again. In 1969 he accepted a position as a youth pastor and moved his family to Missoula, Montana, then Billings, Montana. Along with church work he also worked for the Missoulian newspaper, and then became the Managing Editor of the Billings Gazette. Following this job, he moved on to Racine, Wisconsin as the Editor of the Racine Journal Times. In 1980 Dean went back to Montana as the Corporate Communications Manager for the Montana Power Company. He married Carole Clark in 1983, becoming a stepdad to her two boys. Following his retirement, they moved to their dream house on Flathead Lake. In retirement, Dean enjoyed working with Omega Sports Broadcasting and taught journalism at Flathead Valley Community College. He also enjoyed singing in church and as a member of the Blest Quartet. He was instrumental in starting the Montana Gospel Music Association and bringing groups from all over the country to perform in Montana. He also enjoyed volunteering at the High Altitude Speed Skating Rink where U.S. Olympic athletes trained. He was an avid fan of the University of Montana Grizzly football team and for many years was at every home and many away games.
In his later years, his health began to decline and he suffered from congestive heart failure, among other maladies. He moved to Albuquerque in November of 2019 to be near his oldest daughter and her family, who helped to care for him. The first months were fun as he was able to go to church, the movies, and out to eat with his family and enjoyed spending time with them. The last months of his life were very hard as the pandemic caused him to be quarantined and isolated over and over in his assistive living facility. This took a toll on both his physical and mental health. He was hospitalized three times and the last time he just could not bounce back. His daughter and granddaughter were allowed to be with him in the hospital finally as he passed away.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, first wife Marlene, daughter Kathy Boyd, granddaughter Karissa Bates and great granddaughter Haven Baier. He is survived by his wife Carole, oldest daughter Kaye Bates, son-in-law Tony Boyd, stepsons Jason Clark and Jarid Clark and wife, Olivia. He is also survived by his grandchildren Katie and husband Mathew Groff, Jonathan Bates and wife Kathryn, Kristina Madrid and husband Timothy, Mindy Baier and husband Michael, Kelli Williford and husband John, as well as Alexis, Samantha, Jacob, Macey, Colin and Drew Clark. His great grandchildren are Ethan, Gabriel, and Caleb Groff, Aaron and Kaitlyn Madrid, Tucker Baier, and Clara, Lincoln, Bonnie and Graham Williford. Dean is also survived by his brothers: Orrin and wife Marjean, Morris and wife Jackie, and Kevin and wife Twila, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Due to the pandemic, a memorial for Dean is tentatively planned for this summer in Montana.