by Amanda Fanger, Reporter and Farmer
Meet Loren Jorgenson. You might better know him as Dax, a nickname he picked up while serving in the Navy. After several years of living in big cities, Dax says he’d prefer living in his hometown any day.
Born in 1975, Jorgenson is the son of Kim and Gloria Jorgenson.
“I’d never lived anywhere else,” he said of his hometown of Waubay. “I mean, I’d gone on family trips before, but nothing big.”
Jorgenson’s first taste of the outside world came following his high school graduation in 1994 when he enlisted in the Navy. He was first stationed in Chicago and the Great Lakes region before being stationed at a couple of locations in California.
“It was kind of odd at first,” Jorgenson said of living in a bigger area. “You’ve got to remember where you’re going, even if you just go out for a walk.”
He told the story of his first weekend being stationed at Port Hueneme, CA. He went for a walk, leaving the base in southern California for the first time on his own, and soon had no idea where he was. He described finding himself in a neighborhood where all the houses were surrounded by tall brick walls and wrought iron gates.
“I couldn’t find my way out,” he said. “Finally, I flagged down a cop and he gave me a ride back to the base.”
In 1997, Dax came back to Waubay after he’d married a California native. His return to his hometown was short lived. The cultural shock was too much for Dax’s bride.
“She didn’t like the small town,” he said.
They moved back out to California where Dax did construction, at first for a company and later on his own. He did general contracting but specialized in residential and commercial construction.
He said he was just putting to use what he’d learned in high school shop class in Waubay and what he’d practiced most of his life.
In January 2005, Dax moved back to Waubay and joined his family business at Jorgenson Meat Processing. He now works as a butcher.
“I did this stuff all the while I was growing up,” he said.
Two years ago, Dax saw a cage fight for the first time. A friend had secured him tickets to see a fight in Brookings.
“I saw that and thought, ‘I want to do that,’” he said.
After some training with folks in Brookings, Dax stepped into the cage himself.
“It’s the personal competition of it. It’s you versus him and that’s it,” he said. “It proves you’re alive.”
Although he says he’s officially retired from cage fighting now, Dax just started his own business relating to it in January, called Combat Fights, Inc.
While he lived in California, there were a couple of things Dax says he missed from home.
“A good steak,” he stated. “Out there, about once a month we could afford to have steak. A couple, two-three good steaks would cost $75.
“That and the quiet,” he said. In Waubay, “You can stand outside in the middle of town and it’s quiet. Out there, even in the middle of the night, you’ll hear sirens from somewhere off in the distance and shop noises. Here there’s peace and quiet.”
Dax says it’s true that access to shopping may be better in a larger economy. He adds, “It may be a bit more of a challenge here, but as for the trade-off – I’d chose to live in a small town any day.”
Dax has three sons – Ethan, Wyatt and Austin –who travel back and forth to live with him in Waubay and their mother in California.
“They’re getting to be old enough now to see the difference (between a big city and a small town),” he said.
Ethan just turned 14 and decided to live with his dad full time.
“Looking at both aspects of it, it’s nice to get out (and see other places)…But if I were to make the choice of where to live, I’d pick a small town every time,” Dax stated.
“Of course,” he added with a smile, “I wish we could have a little less snow.”
Dax is a member of the Day County Economics Board and has been a volunteer firefighter for three years.