Tulsa lost a true gentleman and community leader earlier this month. Joe "Jerry" Dickman died peacefully at home, looking out at the trees and land that he loved, surrounded by family.
Jerry was born and raised in McAlester, Oklahoma to Lois and Joe Dickman. He and his sister, Jeanne flourished in the small town, despite the hardships and realities of that era in history. Jerry's father introduced him to fishing, hunting and lake life. Jerry's mom introduced him to poetry and likely instilled his sense of civic duty. Jerry excelled in school, and pursued an interest in speech and debate. His love of music led him to host a radio show and serve as the drum major of the McAlester High School band, graduating in 1951. He also spent considerable time his first two years of college building a sailboat by hand, which instilled a love for wind over water that enlightened his life.
He attended The University of Oklahoma, obtaining his bachelor's degree with distinction, earning membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and completing his law degree in 1957. While in college, he was a member of the Kappa Sigma social fraternity and continued his radio career on KNOR in Norman, where he was known as "Cousin Jerry."
Jerry distinguished himself in law school as a top student, earning Order of the Coif. He was a member of the 3-person team from The University of Oklahoma that won the 7th Annual National Moot Court competition in New York City in 1957. OU's law school was also the garden for some of his greatest friendships, including those with Doug Fox, Bob and Jack Santee, Tom Brett, and L.K. Smith.
He settled in Tulsa after law school and was associated with several Tulsa firms. It was during this time period that he became associated with his co-worker/lifelong friend, Judith Tucker. He also served as vice president/general counsel of Flynn Energy Corp. and Chapman Exploration.
His work with the Chapman family led him to serve as a trustee of both the Mary K. Chapman Foundation and the H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust for more than the last twenty-five years. He was grateful to have the opportunity to further that mission by supporting luminaries at institutions such as The Salk Institute, The University of Tulsa, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Holland Hall, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center supporting its efforts to eradicate cancer. Most recently, he was pleased that the Chapman Foundations were able to serve as a significant contributor and supporter of The Gathering Place in Tulsa, and also play a significant role in Chapman Stadium at The University of Tulsa.
It was during his work as a trustee that Jerry became deeply involved in the nonprofit sector, not only in Tulsa, but also in Colorado Springs, where he made a second home. In 2008, Jerry helped found the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence (ONE) Awards with Tulsa businessman, Joe Moran. The One Awards were established by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits to highlight Oklahoma nonprofits that employ the tenets of excellence in their daily operations. To date, the One Awards have provided $1.7 million in grants to nearly 300 organizations around the state.
In recent years, Jerry served as a trustee or board member with numerous organizations including The University of Tulsa, MD Anderson Cancer Center, The Festival of World Theatre in Colorado Springs, and The El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs. At the time of his passing, he was the current chairman of The Tulsa Community Foundation, an organization he loved and believed to demonstrate on a daily basis only the very highest and best ideals of the Tulsa community.
While Jerry was passionate about his contributions to his community and always generous with his time, his family was his greatest joy. He raised four children in Tulsa, as well as nine proud grandchildren who knew him as "Pops." His children cherish countless memories of a loving and patient parent, a moral compass, a man of true wisdom, integrity and grace. He passed on an understanding "that to whom much is given, much is expected." In their fun times together, Jerry shared his passions with his family including his love of nature, fishing, sailing, skiing, hiking, golf, basketball, "hands-on" landscaping, and ice cream sundaes. His kids, their spouses, and grandkids can trace one of their own passions to a shared moment, which is a priceless gift.
Jerry was a long-time member of Southern Hills Country Club. His family members fondly remember their times with him there, for instance when he initiated and then directed the junior golf program for many years.
Jerry made many dear friends in Tulsa, some of the closest of which grew out of his adventures as a member of the Tulsa Ski Club. Friends from the group included Bob Santee, Lynn Moore, Donne Pitman, Bill Goeff and John Turner. His friendship with Carl Young was one of the greatest pleasures of his life. He also shared many years with Belva, the mother of his four children; Patti; and his wife, Jeannie. Other friends included: Chris Rhodes, John Walton, and John Johnson.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Jeannie, with whom he shared many adventures over the last few years. He is also survived by his children and their spouses: J. David Dickman, J. Scott Dickman and Martha, Debbie and Brent Henderson, and Amy and Jim Gray; as well as his brother-in-law, Dave Bryant, of Oklahoma City and Jeannie's daughter, Samantha and Niall Armstrong. Grandchildren include: Kristina and Natalie Dickman, Kit and Caroline Dickman, Andrew, Hannah and Michael Henderson, and Sara Jayne and Connor Gray.
In lieu of flowers, a fund has been created to honor Jerry at the Tulsa Community Foundation, dedicated to the nonprofits Jerry held dear. Contributions can be made payable to: Tulsa Community Foundation with memo to "Dickman Charitable Foundation." Address: Tulsa Community Foundation; 7030 S. Yale Ave., Suite 600; Tulsa, OK 74136. Contributions by credit card may be made at: https://tulsacf.org/?fund=1425
A celebration of Jerry's life will be held Saturday, September 28, at 1 p.m. at the Lorton Performing Arts Center at The University of Tulsa.