Richard M. Tokach
NDSA Past President Dick (Richard M.) Tokach of Mandan, formerly of St. Anthony, passed away on Nov. 9.
“Dick was a quiet leader,” remembers former NDSA Executive Vice President Wade Moser of Bismarck. “He wasn’t someone who yearned for the spotlight or delivered big, boisterous speeches, but he was a respected leader and great communicator because of his willingness to listen.”
As president, Tokach worked to include every segment of the industry in the NDSA. He encouraged the development of both the NDSA Feeder Council and NDSA Seedstock Council and helped usher in the district roundups, now known as the Spring Roundups.
“Dick wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something and he wasn’t afraid to break tradition or develop new ideas,” Moser said. “I remember conversations about the convention and how we could encourage more people to attend. Dick looked up and said, ‘You know, not everyone can make it to convention, so maybe we need to go to their place so we can hear what they have on their minds.’” That was a catalyst for the district meetings.
Born on Oct. 13, 1932, to Matt and Viola (Weiss) Tokach at St. Anthony, Dick grew up on the family ranch his grandfather homesteaded in 1898. Dick returned to the ranch after attending Mandan High School and North Dakota State University (NDSU).
He married Theresa Elter in 1955 and together they created Tokach Angus Ranch. The couple instilled a love of agriculture into their family. Dick was proud when his sons joined him as working partners. Currently, all of his children and grandchildren are involved in production agriculture.
Dick was a steward of the land, a caretaker of livestock and a man of integrity. He believed in public service and served in many roles of leadership for the National Cattlemen’s Association, National Beef Promotion and Research Board, National Live Stock and Meat Board and North Dakota Beef Commission. In addition to leading the NDSA as president, he also served as president of the North Dakota Angus Association (NDAA) and as chairman of the North Dakota Beef Commission.
Dick felt a duty to the community. He was a Morton County commissioner, North Dakota’s state’s representative, Mandan School Board member, Morton County Fair Board member, and St. Anthony Catholic Church trustee. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Spirit of Life Church, Knights of Columbus, St. Anthony Verein and many other organizations.
Dick is one of 19 individuals to be recognized with the NDSA’s most prestigious distinction, the Top Hand Award. He was also named the NDSU Saddle and Sirloin Club’s Agriculturist of the Year in 1993 and was honored with the Beef Cattle Improvement Association’s Seedstock Producer of the Year Award, the Soil Conservation Achievement Award, the FFA Honorary State FFA degree, and the NDAA’s Man of the Year Award. In 2013, Dick and Theresa were inducted into the North Dakota Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Dick is survived by his wife Theresa and their five children Richard (Kathy Graner) of St. Anthony, Amy (Matt Benz) of Beulah, Paul (Marlene Neibauer) of Mandan, Mike (Lisa Thomas) of Abilene Kan., and Brad (Nita Rinde) of St. Anthony. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren, one sister and a brother. He is preceded in death by his parents.
“Dad took a lot of pride in what he did, whether it was serving as president of the NDSA or building Tokach Angus Ranch,” said Dick’s eldest son, Richard C., who also became an NDSA president. Dick led his family much like the organizations he served – by listening to people, empowering them to make decisions and leading by example, not by sermon.