Dr. Joel R. Dickinson


Memorial service


St. Luke's Episcopal Church

Ada, Oklahoma

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Dr. Joel R. Dickinson, 82, flew west on April 30, 2019, after a hard-fought struggle with a short illness a mere 83 days after the passing of his beloved Ruth, his wife for nearly 54 years. We are consoled with the knowledge that they are together again in everlasting peace with their Savior.
Born March 8, 1937, in Omaha, Nebraska, the eldest of three children of Vivian Rollf and Lawrence Dickinson, Joel spent childhood summers exploring the American West with his family. These travels left an indelible impression on Joel, instituting in him a love of history and a deep patriotism for America.
A staunch belief in conservative values and a morality born of fair play charted Joel's personal course in life. He demonstrated his integrity early on, losing his high school senior year Homecoming king election by one vote (his own!) because he believed it was not honorable to vote for oneself. These qualities were manifested in his professional and personal relationships and were a key part of his view of the world.
Joel prided himself on being a lifelong learner. In 1955, he graduated from Westside High School, lettering in varsity football and track and earning a scholarship to attend Carleton College in Minnesota, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in government and international relations. Next, Joel earned a master's degree in government from the University of Arizona in 1964 and his doctorate in political science and public administration in 1974 from the University of Missouri. His dissertation is a 720-page hand-typed volume on the creation of Redwood National Park as a case study in conservation politics.
An avid reader, Joel studied almost every biography of the American presidents and devoured nearly every Western or detective novel ever published. In later years, he enjoyed studying religion and exploring his faith with his friends at St. Luke's Church.
Joel met Ruth in 1965 while they were both teachers at Millikin University and married shortly thereafter. More than once, she said he was "the most interesting and fun person she had ever met."
When Joel committed to Ruth, a widow, he also committed to raising her two daughters as his own. They would later add two more children, a son and another daughter, and the mix became six.
Joel modeled his love of the West and penchant for history with his children, spending vacations traversing the American states, visiting monuments both manmade and of God's creation. These were opportunities for him to showcase his talents with trivia, geography and his near-photographic memory. He could tell you what was written on any random roadside historic marker before you had a chance to read it. And passing through any town, Joel would rhetorically ask which American icon called it his boyhood home. Need the elevation of North Platte, Nebraska? Or the population of Rock Springs, Kentucky? Joel just knew these things.
He especially treasured his family home in Roscoe, Montana, enjoying gatherings there with friends and family during the summer months and spending most autumns there with Ruth. Nestled in the midst of Nature's grandeur, this ranch at the foot of the Absaroka-Beartooth mountains was the base for many adventures - even one hike that resulted in our song, "Joel Got Lost on the Mountain!"
Published on May 22, 2019
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1 posts

Phyllis Satterfield
May 22, 2019
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Joel and Ruth may the Lord comfort all of the family during this time of loss My mother Geneva loved your folks she cleaned your house for many years so I wanted to write this to you.