Dykstra’s work in community got fans excited about tourney

JUCO loses first leader

Dwayne “Dyke” Dykstra was JUCO’s first chairman, serving from 1959-1967, when the tournament first moved to Grand Junction and grew into the event it is today. Dykstra died Sunday at age 87.

Dyke Dykstra knew right off the bat it was going to take a lot of people to make the first Junior College World Series in Grand Junction a success.

Dwayne S. “Dyke” Dykstra, 87, the first local chairman of the JUCO Committee, died Sunday at Hospice Care Center. His son, Tom, said seeing the tournament grow over the years was a source of pride.

“What he was real proud of was getting the service clubs involved with each team,” Tom Dykstra said. “He was a big part of that deal. It just made him so proud that all the people got involved with it over the years. It really grew from nothing to what it is today.”

Dykstra was the tournament chairman from 1959 until 1967, bringing his business savvy to the volunteer organization. He was an officer at Home Loan & Investment and later was the owner and manager of Coca-Cola bottling in Grand Junction.

His involvement in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce was a big factor in making the tournament a success.

“He did quite a bit more from a money standpoint than my dad did,” said Tex Tolman, whose father, Jay, teamed up with Dykstra to convince the NJCAA to move the tournament to Grand Junction after the 1958 tournament was a failure in Oklahoma.

“He was the No. 1 guy in a lot of ways, from a community standpoint. My dad was more the go-between with the people from (the NJCAA). Right away he went to Dyke. Dyke was pretty dominant in that era in the community. His contacts were great.”

Dykstra immediately got the Lions Club involved, and from that came the idea to have service clubs host the teams.

Hurst Otto, one of the original members of the committee, is still involved with the hosts.

“He got as many people involved as possible,” Otto said.

Tom Dykstra said his father had heart problems for several years and in the past year had gotten weaker.

Services for Dykstra are at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, with a private burial in Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

The early days of JUCO were tough financially. Dykstra secured financing to help with the teams’ travel and other expenses, including a “rainy day fund” that would guarantee the NJCAA some money in case the tournament didn’t catch on with fans.

Every year, Dykstra and Tolman trekked to Hutchinson, Kan., to convince the NJCAA to keep the tournament in Grand Junction one more year, and every year they were successful.
Now, Grand Junction is in the midst of a 10-year agreement with the NJCAA.

When he took over as chairman of the JUCO Committee, Jamie Hamilton sat down with Dykstra and talked about the early days.

“The thing that I appreciate and remember about Dyke is that he had a lot of pride, and rightly so, of the work he had done along with his compatriots,” Hamilton said. “We try to remember where we came from.

“Dyke had a great impact on the committee. His passion was evident. It was pretty cool to see a guy in his 80s still have a passion for it.”

Dykstra and other members of the “JUCO Pioneers” were honored at the 2007 banquet that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the tournament. It was a time for the original committee members to swap tales of those early years and take a bow for their work.

To Dykstra, the hospitality the city showed the teams was the key to its success. That formula is still in place after more than 50 years.

“It was a big part of Dad’s life,” Tom Dykstra said. “He really missed it in later years.

“Without him and Tolman, there wouldn’t be any (JUCO tournament).

“Nobody can say he didn’t have a good ride.”


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