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R. Temple Dickson III

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The Honorable R. Temple Dickson III Temple Dickson passed away on November 29, 2006 in the shadows of the ancient cottonwoods that circle the perpetual Sweetwater spring on the family ranch just north of Maryneal. Yet, like the thunder of the buffalo, his spirit lives on in the everlasting hard rock and omnipresent blowing wind of his beloved west Texas and through the impact he had on family, friends, business associates, critics and opponents. Temple was born October 29, 1934 in Seymour, Texas to Robert Temple and Mary Isabel Dickson. He was a product of the Sweetwater Independent School district; where, while in Junior High, he met his soul mate, the beautiful Katherine Kerbow. Destined they were, and after Kathy survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria, they married in 1957 and raised four wonderful girls, their connection growing deeper and deeper. As did five generations before him, Temple became a lawyer, a legislator and a Democrat: graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, serving in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and as president of the Sweetwater Independent School District. Temple was a staunch defender of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and a relentless advocate for underdogs everywhere. As a representative Temple wrote and sponsored the Texas Tort Claims Act which for the first time held the government responsible for its negligent acts. This landmark 1969 legislation altered the inherited English concept that "the king could do no wrong." Temple loved his Shakespeare, but being of Scottish heritage and a direct descendant of Colonel Joe Dickson (a revolutionary war hero and early US congressman from North Carolina), Temple was no fan of kings or those who so pretended. Appalled that a barbershop refused to cut the hair of a minority veteran, Temple also filed what may have been the first civil rights bill in Texas. Dickson was instrumental in the creation and expansion of the Sweetwater campus of Texas State Technical Institute and considered it perhaps his most important local legislation. In the Senate, Temple proudly championed legislation promoting mental health funding, rural assistance, public education, substance abuse treatment, and tirelessly fought the big business lobby on behalf of consumers, workers, small business and the environment. Temple practiced law from 1960 until his death, practicing the last 3 decades from the restored Ragland building, a stone's throw from the Nolan County Courthouse. Dickson loved the law, the advocacy of his fellow man, and held sacrosanct the great American right to trial by a jury of ones peers, and the right of all to counsel. His partners included the late Johnny Moore, Lance Hall, Kenny Maxwell, Aubrey Roberts and Mike Ratliff and he partnered on many cases with the late Don Bowen, Steve Baker and many other fine lawyers. Dickson walked the walk when it came to his belief in loyalty, hard work, courage and helping those in need. Many were saved by his actions in the courtroom and on the back porch. Temple was not afraid to make enemies, nor to take unpopular positions if he felt the cause right, and his word was truly his bond. His greatest satisfaction came from his children and grandchildren embracing these virtues. Temple had a wonderful sense of humor, and loved a good practical joke, which were often provided and received by long time ranch foreman Rex George. Dickson bestowed on his beloved pets names that said it all: Gato, Sister Girl, Bobby D, Yellow Bob, Buffalo Girl and Half Dead Bob. Temple had a passion for reading, and was fond of quoting Shakespeare often with a unique west Texas adaptation. He was an ardent student of history, politics and genealogy. Other significant interests were flying, the cattle business and a particular affinity for implementing the organic and holistic care of native plants and animals. He transformed the family West Texas ranch into one of beauty and productivity by working with nature instead of fighting it. His solace however came by building rock fences. By hand, and with the touch of a master mason, Temple built these massive meandering structures, keeping no creatures out or in. The fences are the essence of this unique man. The stonework, like the man, Temple Dickson, speaks of poetry, of history, of diligence and of perseverance, of standing up for your beliefs, of courage and strength, of nature and of the peace and stability that a recovering alcoholic can attain. Temple is survived by this wife, Kathy: daughter Allison Baker and husband Steve, and their children Temple, Treeman, Cole and Katherine of Austin; daughter Angie Dickson and her children Andrew and Taylor Madison of Colleyville; daughter Priscilla Primavera and husband Paul, and their children Chris, Joe and Mia of the Woodlands: and daughter Maria Parigi and husband Frank, and their children Isabel, Ana, Nick and Anthony of Lexington, Kentucky; and his uncles Charlie Heard of Midland, and Robert Murri of Salisbury, Connecticut, cousins Carl Andersen and wife Linda of Lubbock, Sydney Gay Heard of Midland, Joe Dickson of Seymour, Dickson Kehl of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sally Tenny of Rockwall and Judy Abbott of Dallas. Serving as pallbearers are Temple's son-in-laws and grandchildren. Serving as honorary pallbearers are Don Aiken, Ed Aiken, David Burrows, Paul Dent, Joe Dickson, David Hall, Lance Hall, Michael Hall, John Hart, Rex George, Margarito Gonzales, Ronnie Gurley, Manuel Luna, Weldon Kirk, Austin McCloud, Luther Martin, Joe Maddox, Kenny Maxwell, Aubrey Roberts, Mondel Rogers, Jim Rose, Ruff Ruffin, Ted Sellers, Pete Sheridan, Frank Stovall, Les Wootan, Greg Wortham, Charles Cupp, Joe Feagan, Alan Thompson and John Paul Cain. The family wishes to thank those legions of friends and professionals who have touched our hearts in assisting Temple in his fight against lung disease, and extends specific gratitude to Janie Chmores, Dr. Luther Martin and Donna Boatright for their loyalty, patience and professionalism. The celebration of Temple's life and times will be among the rocks by the spring at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at the 69 Ranch, 12110 FM 608, Maryneal, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Temple Dickson Scholarship for Recovering Alcoholics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock Texas 79409-1160; Hendrick Hospice Care, 1682 Hickory, Abilene, Texas 79604; or the Nolan County-City Library, 206 Elm Street, Sweetwater Texas 79556. Arrangements under the direction of McCoy Funeral Home, 877-710-3946.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Dec. 1, 2006
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