Cover photo for Harry B. Dickinson's Obituary

Harry B. Dickinson

December 21, 1931 — January 30, 2023

Los Angeles, CA 90034

Harry B. Dickinson

Emblem

 

ADVENTURES IN

PARADISE

 

Harry B. Dickinson died on January 30, 2023, at his home of 63 years in Los Angeles, California.   Harry was an adventurer, and Los Angeles was his Paradise.  Sailor, Pilot, Dancer, Man about Town, Family Man, art and music afficionado (Jazz, Flamenco, Classical and Opera), wine connoisseur,  world traveler (all of Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea, the Baltics and Balkans, Fiji and Tahiti, Mexico and Jamaica, Colombia, and Panama),  competitive and sportsmanlike athlete (boxing, football, springboard diving, downhill skiing, boating, lawn bowling), Korean War Veteran (Combat Field Medic), and lover of the Californian lifestyle. He was an independent thinker, blunt and outspoken “according to his lights”. Harry lived the role of an adventurer with his co-adventurer and wife Lois for nearly 70 years – never to retreat from his vision or give it up.  At the end, after a short but serious illness -- he merely gave out after 91 years.

His adventures have come to an end, but it’s fair to say that he did live his dreams with extraordinary passion, strength and integrity.  He danced liked Zorba the Greek as he sailed a chartered boat in the Greek Islands, witnessed the 1968 unrest and revolution in France. He felt the anguish of the Irish in Dublin when Bobby Kennedy was shot and lived through the riots in LA when Rodney King was beaten.   In his career working with the State of California Health Department and in many medical laboratories, he often drew blood from Hollywood movie stars for lab tests. He flew planes all over the west, lost and then twice found (literally) his prized VULTEE BT combat training plane and had so many crazy flying stories to tell. He sailed to Catalina back and forth more times than he could count. He motored his beloved “Lady Jane” vessel over the Colombia river bar and up to the San Juan Islands. He drove like he was late (or in a race) and was known by courthouse clerks at the traffic window by his first name because of the number of tickets he racked up in his three Porsches (a beautiful burgundy 356C), a brown Cadillac (dubbed “Big Doodie”), a Morgan, many Subarus, a 1959 black T-Bird (Lois’ car) and a classic pickup truck.  He was a regular customer at the DMV classes to dismiss speeding tickets. His intense driving was like his ferocious lawn bowling. He loved to tell stories of his close competitions and his wins over near losses, especially in those games where he prevailed over the “troubles on the green”.

Harry was an unabashed lover of all animals (Jack Russel “Molly” and Chihuahua/Bulldog “Pebbles” being his last dogs) and a “secret” supporter of the ASPCA and other animal organizations. His family did not know the depth of his generous nature until after he died and they saw the many organizations he regularly contributed to, including the ASPCA, the Humane Society, the WASPS, Wounded Warrior project, K9s for Warriors and American Indian Education Fund.

Those who knew Harry found that he was as formidable in conversation as he was in lawn bowling, as proud of his military background as he was of his daughters and granddaughters, as blunt in his opinions as he was sincere in his compassion for fellow military veterans.   He was a patriot that new firsthand the damage war can inflict but also upheld the belief in protecting and serving his country. He lived through 15 presidents – most of whom he felt were inadequate and shifty.   He only admired Harry S. Truman.

Harry loved LA and loved the lifestyle of the City of Angels.  It never intimidated him or wore him out.  He knew all the best restaurants in the city and quite a few of the dives too; he favored those near Marina Del Rey because that is where he kept his classic sailboats (Dragon, Green Dolphin, Arianne) and his beautiful Grand Banks (Lady Jane). He knew LA like the back of his hand and driving in LA was nearly a sport to Harry – he always rose to the “Challenge” to drive clear across town, even if the goal was just to get the best hamburger he could find with a glass of good Merlot.

Harry was born in St Louis, Missouri on Dec 21, 1931.  He lived his early years in Coulterville, ILL, a tiny town of 500 people, where his dad was the respected town Doctor and his mom was a nurse. Born in the south surely influenced his gift of speaking to anyone and everyone and he was truly interested in what they had to say. Harry effortlessly spouted so many hilarious turns of phrase, his family started a book to remember them all. His parents sent him to the Western Military Academy in Alton, ILL for high school and the training, rigor, companionship and loyalty he experienced there stayed with him until the end.  

He enlisted in the Army right after his marriage to Lois Ann Fletcher (of Ventura, CA) in late 1951 and ended up in many intense combat postings in the Korean War which affected him deeply, experiences he only started to talk about in his later years. He received an honorable discharge at the rank of Corporal in 1954 and started his civilian life in LA studying microbiology at UCLA. His military experience shaped him and in later years he was a long-standing member of MOWW (Military Order of World Wars), BUSC (British United Services Club of Los Angeles) and the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Priory of the Christian Soldier.

Harry was often viewed as an outrageous personality. He had a will and passion for life that never dimmed and included all the people that he loved and who loved him. 

He lived and died on his own terms and that is the best lesson he gave his family. Harry, dad and grandpa, you will be greatly missed.

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