DECATUR — A great man who lived life to the fullest for nearly 77 years, leaving quite a legacy for his family and friends. He was born November 16, 1944, and died peacefully in his sleep September 10, 2021, surrounded by family. How is it possible to condense Don’s life into a few words? First and foremost, he was a proud American and a Veteran of the Viet Nam War (66-67). He loved to see the flag flying and would appreciate it if more people displayed and respected the flag. He loved ALL sports but especially Alabama Football and Atlanta Braves Baseball. Don was a prolific writer of prose and songs. He dreamed of putting all his writings in a book for his kids and grandkids, something in the works to be treasured. Many people throughout the USA are proud owners of an acrylic painting done by Don. He loved donating his artwork to friends and family. He painted an original and unique painting for most of his doctors the past few years. This was therapy for Don. He also did some sculptures. He was honored to have one of his sculptures in George Wallace’s mansion years ago, featured while he pursued an Art Degree from The University of South Alabama. Don was a member of most of the Patriotic organizations in Decatur: DAV, Eagles, American Legion, VFW, and CPO. He was a born again Christian and a member of the church at Stone River and a former member of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. He was very generous, kind, loving and devoted; he was a deep thinker but also loved to party, dance, and camp at Camp Bluebird (a camp for adult cancer survivors), cruise, sing, grill out, garden, golf and give advice (“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” and “The longest word in the dictionary is SMILES- there is a mile between each S”).
The day Don died, he told us he was tired, and that God was waiting for him in Heaven. There to greet him were his parents, John and Pearl Dickens; his grandparents, Lyle and Bettie Kirby; his brother, Richard Dickens and his wife, Bonnie; his brothers-in-law, Jack Ferryman and Dale Fisher and his mother-in-law, Dorothy Fisher. Also, there to greet him were longtime friends, Bob Ulmer, Randal Burns and Pete Davis. Don is survived by Donna, his devoted and loving wife of 53 years; children Wendy (Jeff) Harris, Dustin Dickens, Amanda Kelley, Theresa (Eric) Livesay, Todd Ulmer and Patrick (Erin) Casey; sisters, Betty (George) Mendoza, Judy Ferryman, Diane (Joe) Hudok, Jill (Russ) King, Susan (Cal) Slavik, Pat (Gary) Hayes; brothers, David (Suzanne) Fisher, Donnie (Joann) Casey, Hank Lightfoot, Joe (Martha) Brittnel, Marc (MaryBeth) Hays, Jim (Carolyn) Brewer and grandchildren, Olivia, John Paul and Brodey Dickens, Ashlyn Harris, Lila and Miles Casey, Patience Hays and Trent Finney; a special niece, Dianna Dickens; a longtime friend, Peggy Johns and numerous other friends and relatives. Many of the above relationships were based not on true family blood lines but on how Don viewed the hearts of others.
The family would like to send out a huge THANK YOU to the awesome Nurses and other staff on 3 North, the ER and PVC at Decatur Morgan Hospital. Don had worked as Safety Director for 17 years at the hospital and many staff still came up to him to express their respect at how they perceived safety because of his precise teaching methods. There were many doctors responsible for the extraordinary measures used to try and restore his body back to health. He never let something like Cancer, COVID or Pneumonia get him down. Some of his doctors were Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Takundwa, Dr. Sosa, Dr. Garcia, Dr. Boyle, Dr. Taramona, Dr. Farris, and Dr. Shah. It would not be right to forget to give praise to the VA Clinic in Huntsville (Dr. Temple), Clearview Cancer Institute (Dr. Bedoya and Debra), and Dr. Seymore at TOC Huntsville.
There will be a Celebration of Life scheduled later. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Disabled American Veterans, 108 Findley Drive, Decatur AL 35601, Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation, COVID research (CDC) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Ridout’s Brown-Service is assisting the family.