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Joan Dickson

Thu, 03/07/2024 - 11:10

Aug. 12, 1931 - Oct. 30, 2023

Joan Dickson, a social worker, birdwatcher, and later in life an accomplished painter and printmaker, died on Oct. 30. She was 92.

In the early 1960s, she and her husband, R. Russell Dickson, bought a house on Meeting House Lane in Amagansett, where they, along with family and friends, “engaged in spirited games of croquet, enjoyed lobster feasts, and hosted Christmas tree-trimming parties,” her family recalled.

“Amagansett and East Hampton held a very special place in my mother’s heart and for our whole family for many decades,” her son Tom Dickson wrote. The house is still in the family.

A passion for birding took her to such far-flung places as Papua New Guinea and Mongolia, but Louse Point in Springs remained her favorite birding spot, and one she returned to frequently during all seasons.

She was born in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 12, 1931, where her father, William Morrow Fechteler, an officer in the Navy, was stationed. Her mother, the former Goldye Mae Dobson, was a homemaker. The family, along with their dog, Lucky, moved frequently between California and Washington, D.C., until moving to Honolulu in 1940, where her father was stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Mrs. Dickson later described life in Hawaii as “a children’s paradise.” She was there for the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and shortly afterward the family moved back to Washington. She graduated from the National Cathedral School and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

“Her zest for international life began when her father was appointed commander of Southern NATO forces in 1953 and the family moved to Naples, Italy, for three years,” her family wrote. “It was in Naples where her lifelong passion for opera was born upon seeing Maria Callas perform at La Scala.”

She then moved to New York City, where she worked as a travel agent for American Express. In New York she met her future husband, who was known as Russ. They were married on Aug. 1, 1959, and had two sons.

Over the next several decades, the family lived in London and Tehran, traveling extensively from both spots, and returning each summer to Amagansett. Her work as a social worker at this time ran the gamut from counseling displaced families to AIDS education. The couple finally settled back in New York in 1990.

After her husband died in 1996, “she turned her full attention to her art, excelling at and exhibiting her works in printmaking,” according to her family. “This close group of friends and fellow artists, and her extended family, were the highlight and sustenance of her later life and from which she drew so much love and support.”

In addition to Tom Dickson, who lives in Los Altos Hills, Calif., her other son, Bill Dickson of Eugene, Ore., survives, as do her daughter-in-law, Katie Dickson, and three grandchildren, Allison Dickson, Sam Marks, and Ben Marks.



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