He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and trained at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He wrote and illustrated 28 books, half of them on Michigan history. He served as Curator of Exhibits at the Museum and Associate Professor in Elementary Education at Michigan State University. He also had experience as a television producer and on-air host, with the program "Open Door to Michigan."
Among the many books Dirk illustrated were three in the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner.