Small Town News

Accomplishment

Billings County native turns 100

The Billings County Pioneer of Medora, North Dakota

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Lonny Tachenko, alumnus of Dickinson State College, a World War II veteran, and a former Billings County rancher, turned 100 years old on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Tachenko is the third of eight children born to Ukrainian immigrants who owned a ranch in Billings County. During the Great Depression, Tachenko moved to work for his father's fruit and vegetable farm in Geneva, Ohio, with his two older brothers.

After graduating from high school in 1937, Tachenko decided to return to North Dakota and enroll at Dickinson State College. He boxed for the athletic team and graduated with a teaching certificate in 1939.

Tachenko taught in rural schools until he enlisted in the Army in 1941. After training, he was classified as a surgical technician and was sent to Greenland. In the fall of 1944, he traveled to France with Company B, the 325th Medical Battalion, to serve in the Battle of the Bulge.

When Tachenko returned from war in 1947, he married Estelle Lang, a woman he'd met in Chicago during one of his military leaves. They moved back to North Dakota to buy their own cattle ranch, for just $19 an acre. The Tachenkos worked their ranch, Lazy X-Bar Ranch, for 50 years. They loved the freedom of the open skies and working their own land and animals.

When asked what sort of legacy Tachenko hopes to pass on to his family and friends, his daughter, Lonna Melburn, said three things: hard work, a positive attitude and a love of God. He believes every person was put on Earth to serve others, a belief instilled in him from his hard work on his parents' ranch. His daughter has never seen a frown cross his face, even when the going gets tough. He is forever grateful for the opportunities God has given him, and continues to do all he can, helping and educating others.

Melburn also attributes Tachenko's profound dedication to education to his time in western North Dakota and at Dickinson State College. On his family's ranch, hard work was an everyday occurrence, and everyone relied on one another. His father believed in a good education and pushed his children to pursue their dreams. Tachenko believes that help from others can only get you so far; what really sets you apart from the herd is your drive and dedication to what you believe in, and for Tachenko, that's lifelong learning.

The Tachenkos sold their ranch and moved to Dickinson in 2004. They reside in Mandan and visit with their two daughters whenever possible. Tachenko's 100th birthday party was held in Mandan.

When asked what sort of legacy Tachenko hopes to pass on to his family and friends, his daughter, Lonna Melburn, said three things: hard work, a positive attitude and a love of God.



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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015



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