Stephen Whitney Dickey, husband, father, banker, sailor, and generous community leader, died peacefully at his home in Lebanon, NH, surrounded by loved ones and Sascha his adored dog on Thursday, February 21, 2013. He was 89 years old. None who knew him will forget his forthright integrity, sense of humor, and the twinkle in his green eyes.
Whit was born in New York City on November 14, 1923, to Charles D. and Catherine Colt Dickey, hird of their four children. After graduating from St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, in 1942, Whit enrolled in Yale University. He earned and played the position of starting center on the freshman football team before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He served as a 2nd lieutenant fighter pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt. Fire in his damaged plane forced him to bail out over Italy. As he ejected, the tail of the plane shattered both his legs. His parachute opened at 500 feet and he was saved by landing on a springy barbed wire fence. After a year in hospitals recovering his health and mobility, Whit returned to Yale and graduated in the class of '45W. His first employment was in sales with the American Brakeshoe Company in Mahwah, NJ, later in Philadelphia, PA.
In 1953, Whit married Closey Virden Faulkner of Richmond, VA (Sweet Briar, '48), and together they raised six children (five sons and one daughter). While Whit worked for the American Brakeshoe company they lived in New York City, New Canaan, CT, Wayne, IL, and Saddle River, NJ. In 1960 they settled in Bennington, VT, where Whit became president of the First National Bank of North Bennington, later renamed Catamount National Bank. In 1973 Closey and Whit moved to Nonquitt, MA where Whit was president of the National Bank of New Bedford. In 1978, Whit became the president of National Bank of Lebanon in Lebanon, NH. That year he and Closey built their present house on Hardy Hill in Lebanon and began transforming the property from an empty field to a gardener's paradise, in the company of many well-loved dogs. For thirty years Whit and Closey kept a summer house at “Hard-alee” in Northeast Harbor, ME.
Whit shared his adventurous spirit through many activities with his wife and children: skiing, tennis, gardening (especially heather), travelling, fly fishing and art appreciation. He chose paintings of local New England artists for the branches of his bank offices in Lebanon, many of which are still hanging. His greatest joy was sailing. With their children, he and Closey cruised and raced “Octet” for many years in the waters off Maine and Massachusetts. They also explored the inner and outer Hebrides in Scotland by sailboat. With friends, Whit sailed across the Atlantic to Portugal. He crewed twice in the Bermuda Race. He was a member of the international Ocean Cruising Club. He knew every “gunk hole” on the Maine coast.
In his retirement, Whit spent two years on “Wendelen” cruising with Closey and a regular stream of guests in the Caribbean: Bahamas, Windward Islands, Trinidad/Tobago, and Venezuela. For many winters they drove across the country to ski at Aspen and other resorts, staying with friends or renting a condo for the family. In 1995 Whit and Closey changed their summer home to “Quarry Cove” a seaside property they developed from an old quarry at the head of Somes Sound in Mt. Desert, ME. Whit created the landscape with the help of a backhoe operator, directing the placement of every huge granite slab left on the site. He delighted in watching his grandchildren playing around the gardens and having picnics on the beach.
Throughout his long career as a banker, Whit was dedicated to helping small businesses. He contributed his professional experience and abilities to several organizations, including SCORE, Planned Parenthood, the Lebanon Rotary Club, AVA Gallery, Northern Stage,Vital Communities, and the NH Charitable Foundation. He was an avid member of the Upper Valley Land Trust, the Kilton Library and Camarata New England. Though he and Closey were deeply enthusiastic about the creative arts, they were particularly supportive of Alice Peck Day Hospital, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Institute. They have always had strong feelings about giving back to this community which has given them so much happiness.
Whit Dickey is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Closey F. Dickey, of Lebanon, NH; by his sisters, Mary Lindsay, of Syosset, NY and NYC; and Cathy Brown, of Princeton, NJ; by his children, Whit, of New York City, Lawrence “Spoon” and his wife, Renee of Seattle, WA; John and his wife, Julie, of South Hamilton, MA; Christopher Colt and his wife, Lynn, of San Rafael, CA; and Clo Giffen and her husband, Bruce, of Anchorage, AK; plus ten grandchildren: Alex, Charley, Kelsey, Emma, Maddy, Ian, Lawrence, Sam, Luke, and Sean. Whit was predeceased by his brother Charles D. Dickey, Jr., of Philadelphia, PA and Scarborough, ME; and his son, Don Dickey of West Lebanon, NH.
Whit Dickey leaves behind a rich legacy of creativity, generosity, and hard work. He lived life to the fullest. A service in celebration of his life will be held at the First Congregational Church on the Green in Lebanon, NH on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 2 PM.
Contributions in memory and celebration of Whit Dickey's life may be made to the “Second Wind Foundation” (formerly “Upper Valley Substance Abuse Foundation”, 200 Olcott Dr., White River Junction, VT 05001) or through the “NH Charitable Foundation” (16 Buck Road, Hanover, NH 03755).