Rodney Major Dahl passed away at dawn on April 11, 2023, after living to see the green grass of another Montana spring on the ranch where he and his wife, Susan, made their home for over 50 years.
Rod was born February 21, 1945, to Otto and Jenimae Dahl, the third of six children in a tight-knit family that was short on money but long on love. Growing up in the small town of Opheim, Rod developed a competitive spirit and a passion for all things athletic, spending countless hours playing the sport of the season, but especially basketball. After high school, Rod attended the University of Montana, where he studied Russian and mathematics, joined the Sigma Epsilon fraternity, occasionally lived out of the back of his pickup to save money, and became a lifelong Griz fan.
On June 11, 1968, Rod married Susan Roselle Lee on her family’s ranch in the Bull Mountains. After he graduated from the U of M, Rod and Susan returned to the ranch to spend a summer working for her uncle, a summer that turned into 53 years. They quickly had three sons – Christopher, Zachary, and Toby – and for many years, Rod’s life centered around the seasons of the ranch and spending time with his boys. His parents, siblings, and their growing families would often gather at the ranch, and many of his nieces and nephews spent a few weeks of their teenage years with Uncle Rod getting a taste of ranch life.
Wherever he went, whether in Montana or on one of the many trips he and Susan took together (Australia, Kenya, and Austria were some favorite destinations), with his big smile and infectious good spirit, Rod never met a stranger. Over the years, he and Susan touched many lives as they opened their home on the ranch to family and friends, neighbors old and new, and sometimes to those who just needed a port in a storm, from foster children to ex-motorcycle gang members.
Rod also enjoyed spending winters in Florida, making new friends, playing golf and tennis and bridge, and spending time with family there. While he might not have been the best golfer or tennis player or bridge player, that never stopped him from believing he should be!
Though Rod battled cancer the last two years of his life, his big smile was not dimmed, and he continued lifting the spirits of others. Whether he was delivering his hallmark chocolate chip cookies to his nurses, cutting firewood for the winter, or catching up with the many friends and family who visited, he kept living life until it was time for him to go.
He was preceded in death by two of his sisters, Donnie Jean and Lori. He is survived by his wife Susan, his sons Christopher, Zachary (Sandy), and Toby, his sister Zona Gail (Richard Atwood), his brother Allen (Kathy), his sister Myrna (Robert Delay), grandchildren Brigem, Colton, Chyna (Toby), Samantha, Augustus (Zach), nieces, nephews, cousins, and a lot of loving friends. He will be missed.
Memorial service will be held at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Roundup on Wednesday, April 19, at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation or Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H Council.
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