Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Even at 63, life continues to just happen


Out of the blue I suddenly became 63 last week and still found myself wondering what I was gonna do when I grow up.

Those of you who have experienced the age of 18 may recall getting that high school diploma and asking yourself, “Okay now what am I gonna do with myself?” In my case I headed off to college to see if that would help me answer the question.

My search for myself has been quite similar to poking around in the fog so I ended up dabbling in whatever seemed interesting… i.e. I majored in courses I figured I could pass, and was awarded a degree in sociology and political science.

Two years into this academic search for myself I got married, ended up with a job as a psychiatric technician (bedpan dumper and key holder) at state hospital in Jamestown. Needless to say I fit right in.

Upon graduating from college the Mrs. and I bought a 1961 van and left. We lived in the van for six months and I ended up working in a reform school in Colorado until our first immaculate conception occurred, and we decided to move, home where I landed a job at NDSIS.

We resettled in Mandan after a few years I ended up directing the Bismarck Police Youth Bureau and experienced another immaculate conception with child number two.

By this time I reached the ripe age of 30, and for some odd reason decided to further my education in Missoula, Montana. I majored in white water rafting and tennis and they gave me a master’s degree in communication… it was a good deal.

We moved home and I took a job running the Association for Retarded Citizens and ended up running for a seat in the legislature. Then somehow Governor Sinner asked me to chair his re-election campaign, then Easter Seals gave me a job,  then Earl Pomeroy asked me to be his Deputy Insurance Commissioner and I switched from a seat in the legislature to a seat on the Mandan City Commission.

Then Blue Cross offered me a job and I’ve been there for 20 years… and that’s where I am now. So as I reviewed my resume, I have to admit that none of these experiences were planned or foreseen… most of them just seemed to happen.

So answering the “What am I gonna do when I grow up” question seems to have somehow become a never ending question… and if I ever figure out how I got to where I am I’ll let you know.

I do have to admit that I have been blessed with more gifts and opportunities than I deserve and life has been wonder filled… but for the record there really has never been a plan rather just a desire to do the best I could with the time I’ve been granted.

However, I do have to give a lot of credit to the folks around me who instilled an innate desire to do whatever I could to leave this place better off than I found it… and although I can’t say that I’ve succeeded, I can say that I have been allowed to play a small role in a lot of good things. So to encapsulate my 63 years of wondering what to do while I’m here, I’ve concluded that doing one good thing somehow makes me want to do another.

So evidently the answer to my question is that I’ve never known what I’m gonna do with myself until after I’ve done it…

Here’s hoping that whatever you do with yourself takes you to wherever you’re s’posed to be.