Former Lodi resident Guy Richard "Dick" Pattison died in Helena, Montana, on July 11 at age 85. Spending a lifetime seeking betterment of working people, Dick had a varied career as a journalist, political activist and commentator, and international labor union representative.
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Born in Glentana, Montana, in 1928, Dick grew up in a family of Norwegian immigrants in northeastern Montana. His heritage led him to love lefse and pickled beets – lutefisk, not so much. He attended schools in Homestead and Medicine Lake, and then just after the end of World War II joined the Army, serving as a cryptographer in the Signal Crops in Germany (where he acquired a fondness for opera). He received a field appointment to the military academy at West Point but chose not to attend, instead returning to work for newspapers in northeastern Montana and northwestern North Dakota.
In the early 1950s Dick became a reporter and copy editor at the Great Falls Tribune. A mutual friend introduced him to Nathalie "Lee" McGregor of Helena, a University of Montana journalism graduate and a copy writer for KFBB radio and television. Dick and Lee married in 1954, a partnership that endured over 59 years until Lee's death on Memorial Day 2013.
In 1962 Dick received an award from the American Political Science Association for political reporting. In 1963 he became executive director of Citizens Rededicated, a Montana organization devoted to fighting political extremism. Long active in the Montana Democratic Party, Dick worked with Montana's senior U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield and later became an aide to Montana U.S. Senator Lee Metcalf. After a brief stint in Washington, D.C., Dick took position as a copy editor with the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, and then a similar position at the Stockton Record. Dick moved his family to Lodi in 1966; Lee taught history and government at Lodi High School for the next 25 years.
In 1969 Dick became an international representative of the Newspaper Guild, a labor union representing news organization employees in the U.S. and Canada. During his 22-year career with the Guild, Dick negotiated labor contracts with United Press International (UPI), the New York Times and the Associated Press (AP). Though he had only a high school education, he did work usually done by lawyers in National Labor Relations Board proceedings.
Dick retired from the Newspaper Guild in 1991 and returned with Lee to Montana, but he did not retire from activism. He served as president of the Montana Senior Citizens Association for five years. He lived with Lee in Lincoln, Montana until 2006, when they moved to Helena.
Dick loved swing music, opera, basketball and politics. Earlier in his life he enjoyed fly fishing and pheasant hunting; Smokey, his first beloved English springer spaniel, taught him how to hunt the birds. Dick is survived by sisters Lois Kato of Havre, Montana and Patty Cairns of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; sons Rob (Shelley) of Walnut Creek, Rick of Carmichael and Steve (Trinity) of Elk Grove, and daughter Beth of Lodi; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The family requests memorial donations to the Saint Peter's Hospital Foundation in Helena, Montana in lieu of flowers. Private memorial services are pending.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from July 17 to July 24, 2013