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ND 6-pack cowboy Dean Armstrong passes away

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-Thought some of you might be interested in the loss of an old time hero--now the famous ND "6-pack" is down to three. This is the article from todays (9-16-05) Bismarck Tribune. TTB

The famous six-pack of North Dakota cowboys is a half-pack now, with the death of Dean R. Armstrong.

Armstrong, 75, one of the half-dozen original inductees into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, died at his Diamond Bar Ranch near Medora on Tuesday.

He also had a home in Beulah.

Armstrong, who rode saddle bronc, bareback and bulls, won some of the nation's biggest rodeos in the early '50s and '60s and was consistently ranked in the top 10 in national saddle bronc standings.

Willard Schnell, a Hall of Fame director, remembers Armstrong as a man who valued friendship above all and for his loyalty to the cowboy way of life.

Armstrong and the ranchers and cowboys he represented are memorialized in several books of poetry written by his wife, Fran Armstrong, a retired Beulah schoolteacher. She is among his survivors. Her most well-known work, titled "My Heroes Will Always Be Cowboys," describes Armstrong to her and to those who knew him.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the Medora Community Center, with burial at Sentinel Butte, where he lived as a young boy and graduated from high school in 1948. He was born in Steele to Hugh and Gladys Bell Armstrong.

Armstrong was among six famous rodeo riders from that earlier era, and his passing follows the deaths of Joe Chase and Jim Tescher.

Tom Tescher, Alvin Nelson and Duane Howard are the three surviving cowboys in the six-pack.

Armstrong won 11 North Dakota Rodeo Association titles from 1954 to 1962 - six in bareback riding, two in saddle bronc, one in bull riding and two in all around.

Schnell said Armstrong was a "hell for leather" kind of guy, who didn't mind riding horses that weren't broke too well at a time when western ranchers took their pick from wild herds in the Badlands.

"He's one of the cowboys from the old school. He learned to ride on working ranch horses," Schnell said.

Armstrong quit competing in 1963, when he was kicked, dragged and nearly killed by a rodeo horse in Livingston, Mont. He went on to raise horses and promote and produce rodeos.

Armstrong suffered a stroke several years back, and while it slowed him in some ways, he still played guitar and sang for his own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.

Darrel Dorgan, director of the Hall of Fame, said Armstrong was legendary for living the kind of life he wanted to live.

"He had a remarkable spirit," Dorgan said.
 

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