Dick Pattison(1928 - 2013)

Dick Pattison

Helena —Spending a lifetime seeking betterment of working people, Guy Richard "Dick" Pattison died in Helena on July 11 at age 85. Dick had a varied career as a journalist, political activist and commentator, and international labor union representative.

Born in Glentana in 1928, Dick grew up in northeastern Montana in a family of Norwegian immigrants. 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 western 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. Dick and Lee married in 1954, a partnership that endured 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. He worked with Montana's senior U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield and later became an aide to 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 in California. Dick moved his family to California in 1966, where 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 to Montana, but he did not retire from activism. He served as president first of the Lincoln Senior Center and then, for five years, of the Montana Senior Citizens Association. He also worked with Montanans Against the Sales Tax. Dick and Lee lived in Lincoln 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, an English springer spaniel, taught him how to hunt the birds. Dick is survived by sisters Lois Kato of Havre and Patty Cairns of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; sons Rob (Shelley), Rick and Steve (Trinity) and daughter Beth, all born in Montana and currently residing in California; 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 Great Falls Tribune on July 21, 2013