BCA Member Profiles: Tom Dahle and Karen Oby

Bismarck residents Tom Dahle and Karen Oby have been BCA stalwarts since its very earliest years, putting their love of the badlands into action. Both North Dakota natives, Karen, grew up in St. Thomas, and is a retired public health nutritionist, and Tom, who grew up in West Fargo, is a retired CPA.

The walls of their home feature the artwork of North Dakotans, Chris Fulton and Sam Coleman, and, as avid readers, they have a stack of TR books three feet high. They are active in their community and church and also belong to the North Country Trail Association. An invitation to join BCA from Jan Swenson, when Tom was attending one of the first TR symposiums at Dickinson State University, was instrumental in their joining BCA. Tom has also served on the BCA Board of Directors.

Karen is the gardener of the household and maintains their grassless backyard, fruit bushes, herb, and vegetable gardens. Tom is a dedicated hiker and has logged 134 miles on the Maah Daah Hey trail, leaving just nine miles to complete, which he plans to undertake soon. Recently, Tom hiked to the top of Chalky Butte in Slope County.

Tom was also a Boy Scout leader for 17 years, taking over a hundred boys on badlands expeditions, hiking, camping, and backpacking, connecting them to the unique landscape and its hidden beauties. His troops hiked and backpacked more than any other troop in North Dakota. As a leader, he insisted that the hikes not only be about the “miles” but also had them stop and take in the silence and smells, reveling in the nature surrounding them. Tom, of Norwegian heritage, adopted as their mantra the phrase kjøre på, which translates as “drive on,” as a way to motivate the Scouts to achieve their goals. They even had t-shirts printed with this phrase and when they wore these, many interesting conversations with new acquaintances ensued.

Look for their smiling faces at the BCA annual meeting and potluck in October!