William Gilbert “Bert” Dickson, 87, of Grand Forks, ND and formerly of Gilby, ND, died Monday, June 24, 2019 at Parkwood Senior Living, Grand Forks, ND surrounded by his family.
Bert was born August 19, 1931 in Grand Forks, ND to William James Dickson and Lula Rosalie “Dutchie” (Scott) Dickson. He became a big brother to Alan “Butch” at the age of one and David four years later. Bert had a happy childhood and often mentioned that he began driving at the tender age of three when help was needed during the potato harvest. Driving later became one of Bert’s favorite pastimes as long as he had one hand on the steering wheel and the other somewhere near his mouth. The habit was passed down to the next generation as most of his children and grandchildren drive the same way.
After graduating from Gilby High School in 1949, Bert attended North Dakota State University in pursuit of an Associate’s Degree in agriculture despite being a lifelong University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux fan. His education came in handy during his farming career. As a lifelong patriot, Bert served in the United States Army from 1954 – 1956. He was stationed in Panama as a company clerk.
In January of 1959, Bert was set up on a blind date with the love of his life, Nathalie “Nat” Loveid, at a mutual friend’s dinner party in Gilby. Although he wasn’t originally excited for the date, especially because he was tasked with taking Nat all the way home to Grand Forks after dinner, he fell in love with her red hair and sassy attitude, and the two were married the following January.
After their wedding, Bert and Nat began their life together in Gilby right next door to Bert’s mother, Dutchie, where they raised five children: Paul, Darla, Bill, Erik and Sara. He was an excellent father to his clan of redheads, and his kids often talk about how hard he worked as a farmer alongside his brother, Butch, and his uncle, Farmer, (minus “sinus week”), his love of whistling any tune in his head and his ability to make up random words at the drop of a hat. The family enjoyed summer vacations at Grace Lake, road trips around the United States and celebrating Bert’s birthday with a cake in the field. Bert was a devoted husband and would do just about anything his wife asked him to do – even if it meant driving 26 miles one way to pick up a pint of cream.
Politics was a lifelong passion of Bert’s, and he wasn’t afraid to make his opinions known. This passion inspired a successful run for office when he became the mayor of Gilby, the president of the school board, president of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association and an Elder in the Gilby church. Although Bert enjoyed being a bit of a homebody, Nat encouraged him to participate in a variety of activities including: singing in the Gilby church choir and with the Larimore Community Entertainers, volunteering as an EMT for Gilby Fire & Rescue, and lending a hand to anyone who needed it. During his 87 years, Bert was a Free Mason, a member of the Chanters group of the local Shriner chapter and served as president of the residential council at Parkwood Senior Living where he spent his final six years.
After their children had grown, Bert and Nat spent time visiting their children and grandchildren, being involved members of their community and enjoying their golden years as empty nesters. They were the gold star standard of a loving couple, and their bond was unlike any other.
Bert had nicknames for everyone, mostly because he had a hard time remembering his own family’s actual names, and in turn his grandchildren often called him Grand-Poo-Bah, which always put a smile on his face. Even after his beloved wife, Nat, passed away in 2016, he maintained a positive attitude and a great sense of humor. Bert loved to joke even until the very end. His dry sense of humor was passed down through generations and will live on through his five children and thirteen grandchildren.
He will be missed by many and is survived by his children Paul, Darla, Bill (JoLynn), Erik (Deb) and Sara (Mike); his grandchildren Aly, Ben, Kayla (Darin), Rebecca, Rachel (Jake), Tanner, Zander, Ryan, Gavin, Jacob, Tyler, Will and Dakota; his great-grandchildren Avery, Finn and soon to come Addison; and his brother David (Shirley). He was preceded in death by his parents William and Lula; his brother, Butch; his wife, Nat; and his son-in-law Kevin Schmidt.
A visitation service will be held Friday, June 28 from 10:00am to noon at Amundson Funeral Home (2975 South 42nd Street, Grand Forks, ND), and a memorial service will be held later that afternoon at 2:30pm at Gilby Presbyterian Church (125 3rd Street, Gilby, ND).
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bert’s name may be made to: Gilby Presbyterian Church (P.O. Box 216, Gilby, ND 58235), Gilby Fire & Rescue (P.O. Box 63, Gilby, ND 58235) and the Gilby Park Board (P.O. Box 86, Gilby, ND 58235).