Charles Arthur Dickinson, 10 30 1923 – 3 21 2022.
Born and raised in Warroad, Minnesota, Charlie-- Art, Uncle Work, Dad, Grandpa, Pap--graduated from Warroad High School, then worked at the Post Office for a year before enlisting in the Army Air Force during WWII. He spent a year in college Stateside before being stationed in Gaya, India for a year. When the war ended, he and three fellow officers were charged with getting themselves from Gaya to Wiesbaden, West Germany. The four split into two pairs and had a contest to see who could take the longest to make it to Wiesbaden. Dad and his companion won, taking six weeks, nearly a week longer than the other two. En route, they saw the pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal and who knows what else. It was the beginning of lifelong world travels for Charlie.
Returning to the States, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota where, in 1946 he met Jean Senstad on a blind date. At the end of the evening, he asked for her number so he could “post it on the Engineering Bulletin Board”. Jean was up to the challenge of him and his humor. In August 1947 they married. After acquiring his MBA by the skin of his teeth (by his own admission) he accepted a position with Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in Indianapolis. Charlie, Jean and their newborn son moved to Indiana where they stayed for ten years and added three more sons and a daughter to the family.
Charlie rose through the corporate ranks, running operations for various companies in Indiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, Oklahoma, and again California and was eventually named President and CEO of Dataproducts. In 1985, he and Jean moved permanently to Williamstown, Vermont where they had earlier purchased a rambling old house and barn on 40 acres, replacing an earlier Vermont property acquired in 1965.
While in Vermont, Charlie continued and extended his work on corporate boards, helping guide California-based Solectron from $50 million to over $5 billion, including spending two years based in Gradignan, France after negotiating for and then running an operation the company purchased from IBM in the early 90’s. He served on other boards as well, most notably Nypro in Clinton, Massachusetts for many years.
Locally, despite having no kids in the public school system, he and Jean endowed the Williamstown public schools with funding to provide scholarships to graduates for further education. Quietly, he provided support, guidance and funding to many small business owners both locally and afar.
To many of his nieces and nephews, he became known as “Uncle Work” for always putting them to work on some home project or another when they came to visit. It was his form of "play".
He was a skilled and prolific woodworker, making many pieces of furniture, from chairs to hutches and tables. In retirement, which started maybe in his 80’s(?), aside from woodworking, his time was spent tending his vegetable garden and fruit trees, cooking after Jean quit (decades of feeding seven daily was enough for her), stacking wood, travelling to visit family and see the world, and following the news.
In November 2018 Charlie and Jean relocated to Framingham, Massachusetts to be near their daughter and live a less maintenance filled existence. He gave up driving and kept walking daily as long as he was able.
In the last 15 months of his life, Charlie dealt with multiple health challenges that beat the stuffing out of him even as he soldiered on as best he could. He died peacefully at home in the wonderful and compassionate care of Metrowest Hospice and Brookdale Home Health staff, with Jean and Anne present.
Plans for services are yet to be determined.
He leaves Jean, his wife of 74 ½ years, a sister, Marion, four sons and a daughter, Peter, Joe, Richard, Tom, Anne, three daughters-in-law, Louise, Karen, Cheri, two granddaughters and two grandsons, Lena, Allison, Patrick, Dan, two granddaughters-in-law, Jillian, Vidthya, a grandson-in-law Evan and a great grandson, Domenic.
Loved and admired by so many across his long life, to all who met and interacted with him, he left a vivid and lasting impression. He will be missed.
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