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Dale Laurence Arlian

June 10, 1956 October 29, 2023
Dale Laurence Arlian
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Obituary for Dale Laurence Arlian

Dale Laurence Arlian died unexpectedly on Sunday, October 29th. Dale, the son of Leo and Ellen Arlian, was born in Glenwood Springs, Colorado on June 10, 1956. His childhood years were spent on the family ranch near Basalt, Colorado, where he harvested potatoes and possibly raced tractors when no one was looking!

In 1970, the family moved to Big Timber, Montana to the Little Timber Ranch. After school he helped with ranch work, and during haying season, Dale’s claim-to-fame was being head baler man. His “need for speed” was often tested on his motorcycle.

Dale graduated from Sweet Grass County High School in 1974. He attended Billings Technical College and graduated from the auto body program, and got his first job at Brakke’s Body Shop. After that, he and his brother Gary went to work as mechanics at Starr Ford.

In the late 1970s he started Arlian Excavating, where his first projects were developing springs on local ranches. At that time, he became affectionately known throughout Sweet Grass County as “Digger”.

While he had a long list of loyal clientele, he always had a soft spot for helping others and was often out in the middle of a blizzard plowing driveways for the elderly or those in need, digging a grave for a family’s cherished pet, or just lending a hand and sharing his special skills with the community.

Dale was ingenious when it came to problem-solving and fixing things, and liked anything mechanical – cars, trucks, tractors, and snowmobiles. He especially enjoyed showing children his large excavating equipment in the hopes of sparking an interest in carrying on his 40-plus year excavating legacy to the next generation.

He never met a stranger, always had a finger on the pulse of the community, and knew how to keep a secret. In his spare time, he enjoyed fishing, placing a good bet, and having cabin cookouts with his grandchildren and Mary Jo.

He was preceded in death by his father, Leo and is survived by his loving mother, Ellen; children Justin (Jaime) and grandchildren Gabe, Reid and Tayler, and Britni and her two daughters; his partner Mary Jo Ames; siblings Gary (Debby), Kathy (Vince) Thomas, Marvin (Darlene), Nancy, and Curtis (Alycia); and numerous well-loved nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Dale’s life will be held at the American Legion in Big Timber, Sunday, November 5th at 3:00 PM. His cabin cookout favorite, hamburgers, will be served, along with his infamous orange Jell-O salad.

We lost a treasure, and he will be missed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Sweet Grass County 4-H, PO Box 640 in Big Timber, or Stafford Animal Shelter, 3 Business Park Road, Livingston, MT 59047.

To plant a tree in memory of Dale Laurence Arlian, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Celebration of Life




3:00 PM 11/5/2023 3:00:00 PM - 6:00 PM 11/5/2023 6:00:00 PM
American Legion Post #19

110 East 3rd Avenue
Big Timber, MT 59011

American Legion Post #19
110 East 3rd Avenue Big Timber 59011 MT
United States

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