Heart attack claims life of Rifle city councilor at 61
Dirk Myers was many things in life; a father, a companion, a Rifle city councilor, a mentor, a manager, a cook, a storyteller, a near nomad traveling the country and a Philadelphia Eagles fan — to name a few.
He died of a heart attack in his Rifle home Thursday, July 30. He was 61.
Services are scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at Rifle United Methodist Presbyterian Church, and there will be a gathering at the New Ute Events Center immediately following the service. His family is preparing for a large turnout at the service and post-service event. Both are open to the public.
Since his death, Dirk’s family has been inundated with phone calls and text messages from the many people he knew and influenced during is somewhat roaming professional life in the restaurant industry, which took him across the country.
“If I could give everything in this house back to have him, I’d give it, cause nothing means anything anymore,” said Theresa Blanchard Daury, Dirk’s fiancée and companion for the past 16 years. “He was everything to a lot of people. A lot of people respected him.”
Along with Blanchard Daury, those people include his children, sons Ethan Myers and Jacob Myers; daughters Sage Myers Newkirk and Hayley Myers; four grandchildren; his only surviving brother Jim Myers; and a countless number of friends and acquaintances made throughout his colorful life, including his two years on Rifle city council.
“He was very devoted to his duties as a councilman,” said Mayor Randy Winkler. “I can tell you that he took it very seriously.”
Myers was born in Hildesheim, Germany in April 1954. He joked about the fact in a Facebook conversation, saying that neither he nor Arnold (Schwarzenegger) could run for president. Sometime early in life, his parents moved to Ohio and separated. His mother, Linda, eventually married Bill Myers, a police chief in a small Ohio town. That relationship instilled many of the values that Jacob said his father embodied as an adult, including the firm belief that one’s morals cannot be sacrificed, no matter the cost.
Dirk managed to pass some of those same life lessons to his children and others through the art of storytelling, Jacob said.
“I know my life may or may not turn out like his but I learned a lot from him, a lot,” he said of his father. “He inspired people more or less.”
While those stories may not have always been factually accurate, he told them the same way every time, Blanchard Daury said.
Dirk became a cook early in life, ultimately rising to management positions in the restaurant industry. He maintained his love for cooking until the end. While the mother cooks the meals in the traditional and somewhat stereotypical idea of a home, that was not the case with Dirk.
“He loved to cook,” Jacob said.
After three decades in the restaurant industry, Dirk switched to the movie theater business. He was the general manager at a theater in Schenectady, New York for Bow Tie Cinemas, before moving to Colorado to become the general manager at Movieland in El Jebel.
Regardless of his occupation, Dirk was a natural fit in leadership positions, often inspiring and mentoring those below him on the work-place totem pole.
“I had a lot of experience as an operations manager but working with Dirk for three to four years, he helped mold me into thinking about the big picture of operations, and I feel like I am the general manager I am now because of him setting me on the right path,” said Ethan Ochis, general manager at the Bow Tie Cinemas theater in Saratoga Springs, New York.
He was willing to give his time, which is one of the reasons why he was successful in most of his endeavors, Blanchard Daury said. “He’d give you the shirt of his back if that’s all he had.”
While Dirk only called Rifle home for roughly six years, he made himself known in the community, Jacob said. He was elected to city council in 2013, a year in which voters soundly rejected a sales tax for the construction of a new recreation center.
At the time, Dirk said he supported having a rec center, but rejected the proposal of increasing taxes to pay for it. He supported a cap on the sales tax, but at the same time he was pro-development.
“My vision for a new recreation center is downtown,” Myers stated in 2013 when running for council. “A multi-story mixed use facility combining a recreation center, retail, offices and housing. It would be financed through the traditional paths of mortgages and bonds, and the building would be self-sustaining through current city appropriations, memberships, fees, grants and rents. A collaborative effort of public and private entities. It can be done.”
Myers’ seat will be filled in the upcoming municipal election.
His success in the race for city council was his third stab at elected office, and his only successful one. In both of his previous attempts — the first in Round Lake Beach, Illinois and the second in Gloversville New York — Dirk bypassed lower ranking positions on council and ran for mayor.
It was where he thought he could have the most impact, Jacob explained.
“He was very community government oriented,” he said of his father. “He wanted to have the community be involved in every step of the way.”
That sense of community was why Dirk decided to live in Rifle, as opposed to up valley where he worked, Jacob added. “Rifle is very heavy on community and I think that’s why he appreciated it so much.”
Blanchard Daury did not discuss politics much with Dirk, who described himself as a cowboy constitutionalist on his Facebook page, during his time on council. She had little interest in politics, however, it was very apparent that he cared deeply for the city and took his job very seriously.
“He was for the city,” she said, “he was seriously for the city.”
In lieu of flowers, Dirk’s family asks that donations be made to a children’s cancer fund of choice.
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