Born December 8, 1924
Died September 20, 2012
Nicholas Degel Jr. was born on Dec. 8, 1924. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family in Billings on Sept. 20, 2012. Nick was the second of four sons born to immigrant parents in Glendive. His parents, Nicholas and Katherine Degel, were German-speaking immigrants who emigrated from Hungary and arrived in Glendive after leaving their families who had settled in western North Dakota.
The Degel boys lost their mother when Nick was 5 years old and they were raised by their father. They learned the values of hard work and honesty from their father. A 1962 Glendive newspaper article about the Degel brothers noted that an “old timer who watched them grow up” was quoted as saying that, “They’re the most honest men you ever saw…” He added, “they’re gracious gentlemen.” Fifty years later those words still ring true.
In 1945 Marilyn Ries stepped off a Northern Pacific Railroad train car in the late heat of a Glendive day to begin her teaching assignment at a one-room school house in Union. She met Nick in the Jordan Hotel Lobby in Glendive and they were married on June 19, 1946, in Minneapolis. This was the beginning of a 55-year marriage that ended with Marilyn’s death in 2001. Nick and Marilyn were longtime residents of Glendive.
Nick was an independent businessman his entire life. He started Degel Oil Company, a successful fuel and oil distribution business in Glendive, which provided for his growing family. In 1967 he moved his family of 13 children 250 miles west to Billings and started a Dairy Queen and Café business until his retirement in 1991. His spirit and resourcefulness continues to motivate his children and grandchildren. Many of Nick’s children and grandchildren learned how to treat customers and run a business from their “Gramps.”
Nick was a longtime member of Holy Rosary Parish, St. Pius Parish, and was involved in community affairs through Kiwanis International. His Roman Catholic faith was dear to him and he attended weekly mass as long as was possible. He was a Fourth Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus.
Nick is survived by 13 children and spouses: Mary Sue McNamara of Sacramento, Calif., Nicholas Degel of Orlando, Fla., Thomas Degel of Great Falls, James (Jeannie) Degel of Seattle, Rosemary Tallon of Sacramento, Cynthia (Michael) Matthey of Spokane, Wash., Jennifer (Pat) Harn of Billings, Joanne Lowry of Sacramento, Adrienne Bjorndal of Billings, Jacqueline Degel of Redmond, Wash., Jeanne (James) Winnick of Billings, Elizabeth (Jayme) Wynegar of Billings, Theodore (Renae) Degel of Singer Island, Fla.; 35 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by Marilyn, his wife of over 55 years, his first son, who was born in 1947, four sons-in-law and two grandchildren.
A vigil service will be held at Dahl Funeral Chapel, 10 Yellowstone Ave., at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, with funeral services at St. Pius X Catholic Church on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 11 a.m. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.