Merle Aus

Sunday, April 21, 2019
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Merle Aus, age 94, of Glendive passed away at Billings Clinic Hospital early in the morning of April 16, 2019.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at Zion Lutheran Church in Glendive. Pastor Avis Anderson, Merle’s dear friend, will officiate. Silha Funeral Home of Glendive has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Born in Scranton N.D., November 6, 1924, Merle grew up during the Depression, the last of the nine children of William and Emma (Syverud) Aus. Merle attended a one room country school named Washington in Buena Vista township.

When he was seven years old his father gave him a two year old mare that soon had a foal. From then on, Merle was in the horse business.

To attend high school Merle traveled on two railroad lines to Sioux Falls, S.D. from there a short distance to Canton where he attended Augustana Academy, a Lutheran boarding school, graduating in 1942. Roping was always Merle’s favorite sport and he liked baseball and basketball.

In 1940 the family moved to a ranch at Amidon, N.D. In 1949 Merle bought the ranch adjoining his parents in partnership with his older brother Wilmer, a combat veteran of WWII.

At the Slope County Fairgrounds in Amidon Merle organized a saddle club with a membership of about 35. The club enjoyed trail rides, quadrilles and horseback games. At the same time he developed an interest in team roping that lasted all his life. Merle and his roping partner Rex Cook won the first North Dakota team roping championship.

In 1957 intrigued by an ad, Merle contracted to supply the horses, wagons and western gear for an enterprise in Medora, a dramatized story of Teddy Roosevelt’s life in the North Dakota Badlands. At his first appearance in Medora he was also given the role of Roosevelt’s hunting guide Joe Ferris. That continued for three summers. In 1959 he met a Minnesota English teacher, Rose Marie Goetz, hired to assist the costume designer. They were married the next summer and returned together to the theater. That September the couple moved to Glendive where Merle opened the Glendive Saddlery, a saddle shop and western wear store on Merrill Avenue.

He also passed the real estate salesman test and over time was associated with the Erickson-Neilson Agency, the Neilson Agency, Ken Kubesh’s Realty One and finally for Ward Fenton broker at Fenton Enterprises.

From the beginning of his life in Dawson County Merle volunteered with horse events: the Glendive Spring Exposition, Dawson County Fair Open Horse Show, Dawson 100 Club for which he served as president for the first several years.

When his daughter Kristin turned five, Merle set her on the horse show circuit. His breeding program produced a horse named Apache Joe A which earned a World Championship 1982.

Merle taught saddlemaking for 15 years at Dawson Community College and Circle High School.

In retirement, at age 81, Merle wrote his autobiography “It’s Better to be Lucky than Good.” The book now in its fourth printing sparked renewed contact with old friends and new acquaintance with people related somehow to parts of the book.

Survivors include his wife, Rose Marie; his daughter, Kristin; nieces and nephews on both sides; and a host of friends all of whom feel so much loss.

Merle was preceded in death by all his siblings, all their spouses, his two sistersin-law and their spouses.

Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at: www.silhafuneralhomes.com.

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