Some people may say nice guys finish last, but not in this case. In this case, they finish first.

Dick Shannon has been selected as the 2016 Fairview Old Timer for being, as his friends tell it, an “all-around nice guy.” 

Shannon is humble about it all. “There’s a lot more deserving people than me,” he said, shaking his head, but smiling at the same time. “People came out one night and said you’re going to be on the button. I don’t know what criteria they use.”

Shannon is native to the area, born and raised in Alexander to E.D. and Hildegard Shannon. He  and his brother Don, and two sisters, Betty Sather and Colleen Tyree were raised on a ranch south of Alexander and went to school at Moline and Alexander schools.

Dick worked as a ranch hand as soon as he was old enough and will tell you he grew up on horseback. He might not describe himself as a horse whisperer, but he did work with many horses and doctor countless cattle using time-tested techniques he first learned from his father.

Shannon moved to Fairview in 1958 with his first wife, Carol, and sons. Not long after, he began a project of some fame in the area with Bud Starr, helping to set up a boxing team in Fairview. His father had taught him some boxing skills when he was young, so he was very interested in the new club. At that time, boxing was a big deal in the MonDak with teams all around, including Williston, Minot, Sidney, Glendive Great Falls, Butte and Helena.

“It was a real, flourishing club,” Shannon recalls. “We brought in fighters from all over.”

Including the Miller boys, who won National Golden Glove and were Natinoal AAU champs. The Miller boys were originally recruited by Starr. Some of Shannon’s other boxers were Cliff (Butch) Hanson, Jack Hanson, Rolly & Mel Miller, who was an Olympic alternate at age 16 and a National Golden Gloves Champion, as well as National Golden Gloves Champion Bobby Green, who Shannon took to the national tournament in Las Vegas. That was featured in the March 18, 1970, Sidney Herald. 

Shannon was also involved in the annual Fight of Champions as the trainer-manager and promoter of the events, featured in the March 29, 1972, edition of the Sidney Herald.

Dick was also named Young man of the Year by the Fairview Jaycees and was a member of the Fairview Athletic Club and Zion Lutheran Church. Dick served two terms on the Fairview School Board, including one year as chairman. For more than 20 years, Shannon also readily gave of his time to serve on the Fairview Volunteer Fire Department. 

He became a well known familiar and friendly face throughout the MonDak, and eventually opened a full-service station. He worked there side by side with his wife, Penny, and they could often be heard sharing a laugh as they worked side by side. There was always coffee, and usually cookies, donuts, too, as well as a good story. 





















In all walks of his life, Shannon has tried to convey the lessons and good values his own parents have given him while he was growing up on the farm and ranch near Sheep’s Butte. These were lessons that made him a great coach, but also stood him in good stead throughout his life. 

Shannon became a businessman in Fairview, hauling gas in 1964. In the 1970s, Dick married Penny Dahl and they moved north of town, where they farmed and raise cattle on their own place. 

Those were long days, Shannon recalls. He was in town by 6 a.m.. to haul fuel and returned to the ranch, working late into the night.

He became a well known familiar and friendly face throughout the MonDak, and eventually opened a full-service station. He worked there side by side with his wife, Penny, and they could often be heard sharing a laugh as they worked side by side. There was always coffee, and usually cookies, donuts, too, as well as a good story. 

Dick was an agent for various companies through the years, including Westland Oil Co., Thunderbird, Flying J, Behm’s Vision Energy and Ferrell Gas. After the sale of Shannon Oil, Dick could still be found hauling fuel for cherry’s Red Top Service.

He is the father of seven sons, Mike Dave, Tim, Terry, Pat, Eddy and Matt, who are all planning to be in town for the festival. He also has seven grandchildren, Elizabeth, Erin, Hailey, Ricky, Jacob, Alexandra and Clara. 

“I wish my wife, Penny, was here to see this,” Shannon said of being named the 2016 Old Timer. “She was a very special person.”

The two worked together in the station for 25 years, Shannon said.

“She could saddle up a horse and come help me with cattle,” he said with a smile. “She picked up bales or whatever you had to do with a tractor.”

Shannon recalls meeting Penny at a trail ride in Culbertson one Labor Day, and they were soon inseparable.

Shannon will be 80 next spring, and said he has been witness to so much change in the area.

“Everything has changed so much now from what it used to be,” he said. “We only lived 8 miles out back then. It wasn’t a long ways, but you never went to town because it was a chore to go any place. Now we don’t think too much about it. The oil industry has really changed the area, and it’s not all good.”

The growth in Williston and Watford have been unbelievable, Shannon added.

“I have thought many times, if my folks were alive today they would not believe this happening to this country,” he said. “When I was in high school, Highway 85, half of that was still gravel and that Road 68 going from Sidney, that was all gravel, too.”

Shannon remembers going to a country school that didn’t have electricity. 

“I don’t know how many teachers they had, but there was a room built onto the school for them to live in,” he recalled. “I remember we had a new teacher in sixth-grade, and we had a snowstorm in October. When they plowed the roads, she was gone. They would all stay a while, but then couldn’t stand it because you don’t see anyone else.”

His father got him a car when he was in high school, but when it snowed he’d have to stay in town. He didn’t like that much, he said, because he would be up at the usual 4:30, 5 a.m. and no one else was up and around.

He recalls they made their own fun growing up as children. There were basket or pie socials at the school in summer, in which each lady would auction them off and whoever bought them got to eat the contents with her. And there were summer rodeos.

There were whisk games at the school in winter, which they went to on sleds pulled by a team. The holidays would bring out the Norwegian treats, the lefse, the krumkaka and the sun buckles, a type of cookie. It also brought out a twin string of lights in Alexander that brought shining eyes and smiles from area children.

“We thought that was really something when we were kids,” he said. “We also had friends in town with light switches, and that was something else, too. You could flip a switch and turn the lights on. We had kerosene lights and lanterns at home.”

Today what he thinks is really cool is continuing to work horses with his grandchildren, passing on all that he knows to a new generation.

“Jake, he’s 7, and he wants to go with me all the time,” Shannon said. “He is a lot of help. They learn to do a lot of things, and it’s so wonderful.”


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