After having suffered various ailments, finally taking their toll, Joel Roland Dickson passed away at his home in Oak Park, Ill. with family by his side on June 25, 2017.
Born on March 28, 1942, in St. Louis, MO Joel Roland Dickson was the younger brother of Raymond and the son of Ruth S. and Sylvester Dickson. He attended Catholic schools within his Parish, Blessed Sacrament Elementary and McBride High School. During his senior year of high school, he moved to Springfield, IL to live with his aunt and graduated from Springfield High School. Joel Roland wanted to be an architect and after two years at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana he returned to St. Louis, MO to attend Washington University. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education in 1964. In the fall of that year he married Vivian Veneal Burns and both began to teach in the St. Louis Public School System.
After teaching for a year, he worked for the Human Development Corporation, an entity of President Johnson’s Anti-Poverty Program. He left the public sector the year his older daughter, Joy, was born and began working for Proctor and Gamble. Shortly thereafter he was offered a job in Chicago working for Ortho Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.
Joel Roland accepted this position and moved his family, which now included his younger daughter, Jana, to the Chicago area. In addition to working for Ortho Diagnostics, he worked for Abbott Laboratories, Organon Technics and Serono. Being a pharmaceutical sales representative afforded him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the Midwest and on occasion to other parts of the country. He received several sales awards and other accolades throughout his career. After retiring he started JOJAN Construction Co. and enjoyed substitute teaching in Chicago Public Schools, specifically Harlan High School and Vanderpoel Elementary School.
Life in Chicago provided Joel Roland many opportunities to connect and develop relationships with various business, civic, alumni and social groups. He was President of his Condo Association, a member of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, member of the BMW Car Club of America, member and President of Washington University-St. Louis Black Alumni Association-Chicago Chapter, member of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago’s Religious Education Board and Sunday School teacher. He also worked with a local Hyde Park group to have the Nichols Park named after his friend and neighbor. Later he enjoyed extensive gardening and renovating his home after moving to the Beverly Neighborhood.
Joel Roland Dickson also enjoyed traveling and was able to visit 48 states, and go abroad to Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, as well as, Canada and Mexico. He loved taking a cruise to Alaska, exploring Ireland and Paris, traveling back and forth to St. Louis to see family and friends or attending a Wash. U event. His last trip abroad was his first and only time to Asia, where he was able to see the Great Wall and also go to Japan. A family gathering in St. Louis to celebrate the past Thanksgiving holiday was his last opportunity to travel. With all of his travels both domestically and internationally, Joel Roland would count walking his daughter Jana down the aisle as his greatest trip of all, and his ultimate since of adventure was navigating being a grandfather to Chloe and Caleb.
His parents Sylvester and Ruth S. Dickson, and brother Raymond Warren Dickson preceded him in death. Joel Roland is survived by his two daughters, Joy R. Dickson and Jana Richards (Ken), stepson Gregory Leigh, sister-in-law Judith Dickson Durham, niece Juliuna Garwood (Michael), nephews Raymon (Brittney) and Anthony Dickson, great-nieces- Amirah and Khaliah Garwood, great-nephew Carter Dickson and ex-wife Vivian Veneal Burns, as well as, other close companions, family and friends.