Planting a tree to commemorate the life of a loved one and to perpetuate their legacy is a time-honored tradition. A tree was planted on the Dickinson State University (DSU) campus in honor of Tyler Plummer (‘01), who passed away in 2012 at age 33 due to a massive heart attack.

The original tree had not been thriving and needed to be replaced this spring. At the same time, Dale Ficek, a member of the Dickinson State University Facility Operations staff, became aware of a mature spruce that was slated to be cut down at the Sanford Sports Complex to make room for new signage. Ficek remarked, “I will always do everything that I can to save a tree. I thought this would be the perfect replacement for the Tyler Plummer tree. We searched for a month to find a local company with a large enough loader to move 11,000 pounds of dirt and replant this majestic fifteen-foot tree.”

Memorial Tree MarkerTyler Plummer grew up on his family’s ranch north of Baker, Montana. He wrestled throughout high school for the Baker Spartans and graduated as valedictorian in 1997. Tyler then attended Dickinson State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a degree in Accounting. He loved wrestling and attended many high school tournaments, helping former DSU wrestling coach Thadd O’Donnell spot potential recruits. Tyler also assisted in organizing and running wrestling tournaments for coach O’Donnell. His wrestling legacy lives on through the University’s Tyler Plummer Classic Open.

O’Donnell noted that Tyler deeply influenced the DSU wrestling team during his time here. He organized the team’s recruiting efforts, paying incredible attention to detail.

One memorable story O’Donnell shared about Tyler was his knack for identifying under-the-radar talent among graduating seniors in the region. An example of Tyler's talent-spotting ability is Justin Schlecht (’09), who did not place at the state level as a high school senior. “Despite this,” O’Donnell continued, “Tyler saw his potential and put him on our recruiting list. Justin went on to become a three-time National Champion for DSU. Tyler had an exceptional eye for talent, seeing potential in athletes that others often overlooked.”

Tyler Plummer's tree overlooks the DSU flag plaza.“Tyler ran the bracket and scoring for our team tournament. Before electronic scoring systems were available, he developed his own program for running home tournaments, which he wrote as part of his master's program,” O’Donnell said. “I think of Tyler almost every day; he will never be forgotten.”

Tyler loved to plant trees and watch them grow, taking yearly pictures of his trees with his wife, Annika (‘04). Tyler was also an adjunct accounting professor at DSU, where he made a significant impact on students as an active accountant and CPA. His close friend and faculty member Rolf Butz and Tyler rode horses together over the years. Butz noted, “Tyler was a horse trainer through and through. It was a pleasure to spend time with him on horseback.”

Today, Plummer’s tree is thriving and stands as a symbol of a life well-lived as a wrestler, a horse trainer, a teacher, and a distinguished alumnus of Dickinson State University.

Gifts can be made to the Tyler Plummer Wrestling Scholarship fund at the DSU Heritage Foundation. To donate a tree to beautify the campus in honor of a loved one, please visit