Love Of Cars Keeps Retiree Alive

PAYSON PEOPLE

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Two things quickly stand out about Payson resident Bob Dieryck -- his love for cars and his disdain for local government.

"I've loved cars since I was 13," the 72-year-old retiree said. "It's about all I've ever done other than work for a living."

Most of the time, Dieryck can lose himself in his cars, but every once in a while his dislike of town government bubbles to the surface.

"I don't know what's the matter with the people that run this town," he said. "They're trying to grow it too fast and they don't listen to what the people want; it's all about what they want."

Dieryck, who lives in Alpine Village, has been a permanent Payson resident for four years, but spent the previous four winters here as well.

A Minnesota native who grew up on a farm, he spent a good portion of his life working in Alaska for that state's game and fish department. He loved living there.

"When you're young, it's like heaven," he said. "It's a little bit colder than Seattle, except in the wintertime you get 30-40 degree weather. Normally it's really pleasant.

"I lived all over up there and traveled all over the state. It was more fun than a job."

But the high cost of living makes it tough to retire in Alaska, so Dieryck moved to Idaho, then back to Minnesota before discovering the Rim country.

"It's a neat town," he said of Payson. "I just hope they don't ruin it.

"They just don't understand that this is a retirement town. I'll bet 90 percent of the people on this street are retired."

Dieryck's first car was a 1931 Pontiac.

"I traded a bicycle for it," he said. "Of course it didn't run, but I got some friends and we pushed it home and we got it running. I think I was the only kid in junior high that had a car."

While he's now an avid member of the Old Ford Club, Dieryck owned Chevrolets most of his life.

"The only Fords in my life were the old flatheads -- the old Fords I kind of grew up with," he said. "They're just a neat old car.

"I never got into this fancy stuff -- hot rods and stuff," he said. "I kind of like them the way they were built.

"That's about the closest thing I've built to a hot rod," he said, nodding at the red 1930 Ford sport coupe in his driveway. "And the only reason that came out that way is that it was a pile of junk when I got it. I just figured I'd put it together and have something to play with.

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Bob Dieryck

"It (originally) had a canvas top on it, and to rebuild the canvas top was about $1,800. I just couldn't see spending that kind of money on it so I just made it into a roadster.

"It's got the original Model A engine, but I did put a V8 transmission in it. It shifts better. And I put some modern tires on it.

"It rides pretty decent for an old car. It's got the old suspension in it, mechanical brakes."

Dieryck's other car is a black 1934 Ford which has won awards at car shows all over the country.

"It's one of the most popular cars they ever built," he said. "This was probably the top of their line as far as a coupe goes.

"It's the car that pulled Henry (Ford) out of the Depression. He came out with the V8 in 1932 and that was a fancy motor back in those days.

"That engine is a real work of art. It's all sandcasted -- one piece. It's a sweet-running engine.

"I've got a two-speed Columbia rear end in it, hydraulic brakes, a 1939 transmission. The steering gear is out of a '56 Ford pickup.

"A lot of engineering went into this car when I built it. I made it so it's a real pleasure to drive."

When you visit Dieryck, you'll most likely hang out in the garage -- a fascinating place filled with photos and trophies and all sorts of memorabilia.

"This is what keeps me alive," he said, proudly surveying his world. "I do this and my arthritis doesn't bother me. It keeps me moving."

With, of course, an assist from his buddies in the Old Ford Club.

"It's probably the best little club in town," he said. "Anytime I need help I call them and two or three guys show up.

"Nobody's in charge; we're totally unorganized. We don't have any dues, no nothing. That way we don't argue.

"We give Bill (Michaelis) all the dirty work. He don't seem to mind."

The group took several firsts at the recent car show on Main Street, the type of event Dieryck would like to see more of.

"That's what they need to do down there," he said. "They need to get something to bring people there. It's just a perfect place to do this and the merchants are just fantastic.

"That stupid little (history) park isn't going to bring anything. That was a waste of money."

And since he's slid back over into town government, what message would he like to send Payson's town council?

"Give up and start someplace else," Dieryck said. "I wish they'd clean the whole thing out and start over.

"They never get rid of enough of them to get a new batch in there. I'm just hoping one of these days they'll get some decent people to run the town and quit wasting money.

"They say, ‘It's a great little town; we have to keep it small.' Then they go and vote themselves a raise.

"‘The only way you're going to get decent people is pay for it.' Well that's a crock of bull.

"And now they want to run the mayor for four years? They should run everybody for two years. That way you can get rid of the deadheads."

Well, we asked.

Profile

Name: Bob Dieryck

Occupation: Retired

Employer: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Age: 72

Birthplace: Duluth, Minn.

Family: Wife and three children, one in Idaho and two in Alaska

Personal motto: Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. (That used to be up on my desk in my office.)

Inspiration: My grandfather.

Greatest feat: Staying alive this long.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Cars.

Three words that describe me best: Grumpy, old, owly.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Henry Ford

Luxury defined: My '34 Ford.

Dream vacation spot: Alaska

Why Payson? It's just a neat little town -- if they don't ruin it.

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