Alvin Richard “Al” Dickens died suddenly on Tuesday, July 3, 2007. Al was born February 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan to Ruth Marjorie (Brown) Dickens and Henry Johnson Dickens – both of whom preceded him in death. Al was active with Boy Scouts for 52 years achieving his Eagle award at the age of 13. Al graduated from Sandusky High School, Sandusky, MI in 1965. During school, Al was an avid athlete and lettered in several sports. He was also active in drama and enjoyed acting in a number of plays and musicals. Al attended Michigan State University where he played football and baseball and was a member of the ROTC. His first Bachelor’s Degree from MSU was in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He later earned his Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Master’s in Environmental Education.
Al married Linda Sue Wank in South Haven, Michigan on August 19, 1967. They settled in St. Johns, Michigan and started a family which includes the following surviving children: daughter, Allison Butler and husband Scott of Woodinville, WA; sons Bart Dickens of Athens, GA, Zachary Dickens and wife Marcy of Watkinsville, GA, Patrick Dickens of Athens, GA.
Al was a member of St. Johns Lutheran Church where he was a youth leader, sang in the choir and played on the church softball team. Al taught at North Elementary School in Ovid, Michigan until moving the family to Georgia in 1980. He taught 7th grade at Davis Middle School in Milledgeville, Georgia and was a Baldwin County JV Football Coach for two years. He was a member of Hope Lutheran Church and First United Methodist Church in Milledgeville. In 1983, the family returned to Michigan to be closer to family after Linda was diagnosed with cancer. During this time, Al was a tireless caregiver and partner in Linda’s fight for life until she passed on August 4, 1986. In 1990, Al relocated to Union Point, Georgia where he taught at Union Point Elementary School for 14 years. After retiring from teaching, Al resumed his career as a financial planner with Primerica Financial Services.
Al was blessed to have met his beloved wife, Constance Rettew Bryant Dickens in January, 2002. They exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico on December 24, 2003 and wed on April 30, 2004 in Greensboro, Georgia. Al recently described his marriage to Connie as “as wonderful as can possibly be” and he liked to refer to himself and Connie as “Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful.” Though their years together were too few, their union brought two more sons whom he dearly loved: Ura Bryant and wife Allison of Senoia, GA and Billy Bryant of McDonough, GA.
Throughout his life, Al was a teacher, mentor, friend and father figure to many children. He was an Eagle Mentor with Boy Scouts, a foster father, a step father, a camp counselor, a beloved uncle and a teacher of bible school as well as math, science and social studies. He used to refer to himself as “Uncle Al the kiddies pal” and was probably best known to many as “Mr. D.” Above all else it was likely his role as “Grandpa Al” that he most cherished in life. Al’s sense of wonder, spirit of adventure and corny jokes will live on in his treasured grandchildren, Morgan Elizabeth Dickens and Samuel Elliot Butler. Sam and Morgan were recently conspirators along with the rest of the family in throwing a surprise 60th birthday party for their grandpa in February.
Al had a wonderful voice and was a member of the Athens Choral Society and the Athens Lyric League. His hobbies included fishing, golf, bowling, playing cards, traveling, bird watching, restoring old houses, real estate development, financial planning and sharing conversation. Al had visited 49 of the 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico. Al was a fantastic dancer and loved to cut a rug. In June, he danced with his wife, kids and granddaughter at son Ura’s wedding. The family is comforted with hundreds of these wonderful memories.
Also surviving Al are sisters, Karen Carroll and husband Jimmie of Laingsburg, MI and Ann Jiles and husband Dan of Bend, OR; a brother, Bill Dickens of West Des Moines, IA and several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and out-laws. Al touched the lives of hundreds of friends and former students and will be fondly remembered by countless others.
The Dickens family will receive friends on Saturday, July 7 at the McCommons funeral home in Greensboro from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Al’s life will be celebrated with music and memories at a service to be held Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Methodist Church in Greensboro, GA with Rev. Ralph Danson officiating. Internment services are currently being planned for Saturday, August 4th at Lakeview Cemetery in South Haven, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Al Dickens Memorial Scholarship Fund. Checks payable to the fund can be sent to the Dickens residence or funeral home. McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements. Please visit www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online guest register.