Mary Jeannette Dickison

April 13, 1922March 7, 2018

Mary Jeannette “Mem” Dickison cast off her earthly moorings and set sail to rejoin family and friends gone on before. She passed away peacefully in her own home the morning of March 7, with family and caregivers at her side. She was born in Peoria, IL, April 13, 1922, to Dr. Clarke E. and Martha Kasjens Chamberlain. She attended Peoria High School, Bradley University and University of Michigan School of Nursing where she graduated first in her class. She was on Michigan’s nursing faculty and later taught nursing at Cleveland City Hospital. She married George J. Dickison III September 6, 1947, and the adventures began! After the birth of their first child in Peoria, George’s medical residency and subsequent military service shifted their pins around the map, adding Dickison offspring in Mt. Pleasant, MI; Marysville, CA; Ann Arbor, MI; and back to Peoria to complete the family. “Mem” learned to sail as a Girl Scout Mariner and through scouting developed a lifelong interest in sailing, conservation and the outdoors. She reported that she spent summers on the Illinois River when you could still see the bottom and eat the clams. Earning her Girl Scout first aid badge sparked her interest in becoming a nurse. She remained an avid sailor—racing and cruising, fresh water and salt, flowing or frozen—because she loved iceboating, too. She taught husband George to sail and for decades served with gusto as first mate, spinnaker wrangler and galley chef in both Thistle class and open fleet boats, each named Euphoria of Peoria. She was a pioneer female in US Power Squadron courses, and served as Commodore of the Peoria Cruising Club. Mary and George were fixtures at the IVY Club and once won a boat race in a canoe towed by two Springer Spaniels. The twin engines dog-paddled the craft forward in pursuit of just-out-of-reach hot dogs dangling from a fishing pole. Her good humor and goodwill were her hallmarks. She had a knack for a clever turn of phrase and wrote poems, songs and skits for various organizations, festive occasions and Christmas letters. She attacked all programs and projects with verve, weighed all the alternatives and invoked her favorite rallying cry to “press on irregardless" to make the most of any opportunity. A single mention that pink flamingos were tacky earned her a deluge lasting decades of plastic flamingos being mailed anonymously from around the world or placed stealthily in the front yard. She was teasingly gifted with troves of flamingo jewelry, towels, vases, clothing and knick-knacks and would sometimes whisper conspiratorially, “I really don’t care for pink.” Mary loved music and encouraged its practice and appreciation for multiple generations. She was in the Girl Scout Drum and Bugle Corps, played trumpet in the Peoria High School band, and was a camp bugler. She played sousaphone in a local theatre production and transported it across town with the top cresting through the sunroof of our Volkswagen beetle. For many years, she blew a conch shell to call the children to dinner. Mary was active in many civic and community organizations, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Girl Scouts, IVY Club, P.E.O., Peoria Junior League, Red Cross Nursing Committee, Women's Civic Federation, Service League of Methodist Medical Center and the Tri-County Riverfront Action Forum. She also adored the arts and was active in Women's Symphony League, Lakeview's "Thunder on the River," Peoria Players, Broadway Theater League, and Community Children's Theatre. She was a long-time season ticket holder in Cornstock Theatre and occasionally acted in plays. She thoroughly enjoyed her role as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn in the 1964 Cornstock production of The Music Man. Mary was also a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and the GOOFS -- Grand Old Order of the Flamingo Society. Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Clarke E. and Martha Chamberlain, her husband, Dr. George Dickison III, their son David Clarke Dickison, and her brother, Clarke W. Chamberlain. She is survived by her sister and next-door neighbor, Dorothy Millikan, and four children: Dr. Anne E. Dickison of Peoria, IL; Debbie (Wayne) Whidden of Olympia, WA; George (Brenda) Dickison IV of Fort Collins, CO; John (Tracey) Dickison of Huntingdon, PA, and daughter-in-law Kay Dickison of Inver Grove Heights, MN. She is also survived by six grandchildren: Becky (Kevin) Brown of Lakewood, CO; Sandra Dickison of Washington, DC; Scott Whidden of Olympia, WA; Kyle Dickison of Charlotte, NC; Ben Dickison of Minneapolis, MN, and Braydon Lego-Dickison of Huntingdon, PA. She also leaves behind two much-beloved and celebrated great-grandsons: Eliott and Bennett Brown of Lakewwood, CO, and seven nieces and nephews. Mary was a seasoned traveler, loving matriarch, gracious hostess, indefatigable bridge player and die-hard basketball fan who could be scarcely pried away from the television during March Madness. She was a long-time season ticket holder for Bradley Basketball and rooted for all Michigan teams: Go Blue! She loved crossword puzzles, Jeopardy and well into her 95th year enjoyed playing bridge several times a week, continuing to add to her Masterpoints. Mary joked that she never met a meal she didn’t like—or forget—and would astound everyone by recalling not only what she had had at a restaurant, but also what everyone else at the table had ordered. Dickison menus and venues were always delicious, plentiful, exciting and inviting. She fostered family food traditions such as root beer floats, cinnamon toast at the first snowfall, and annually gathering en masse for Thanksgiving with travelers from four different time zones. Mom, we thank you for your physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment. The conch has blown for suppertime in heaven. A memorial service will take place at 11am on Thursday, April 12, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Peoria, IL. Visitation with family will start at 10am. The service will be followed by graveside burial rite and interment in St. Paul’s columbarium. A reception will be held at the church following interment. Arrangements are being handled by Davison-Fulton Woodland Chapel Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Pastoral Care Fund, 3601 N. North Street, Peoria, IL 61604; P.E.O Educational Loan Fund (supports education for women internationally) P.E.O. Sisterhood, 3700 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA, 50312; or Peoria Riverfront Museum, 222 SW Washington St., Peoria, IL 61602. You may view Mary's obituary and send condolences to


  • Dr. Clarke E. Chamberlain, Father
  • Martha Kasjens Chamberlain, Mother
  • Dr. George Dickison III, Husband
  • David Clarke Dickison, Son
  • Clarke W. Chamberlain, Brother
  • Dorothy Millikan, Sister
  • Dr. Anne E. Dickison, Daughter
  • Debbie (Wayne) Whidden, Daughter
  • George (Brenda) Dickison IV, Son
  • John (Tracey) Dickison, Son
  • Kay Dickison, Daughter-In-Law
  • Becky (Kevin) Brown, Grandchild
  • Sandra Dickison, Grandchild
  • Scott Whidden, Grandchild
  • Kyle Dickison, Grandchild
  • Ben Dickison, Grandchild
  • Braydon Lego-Dickison, Grandchild
  • Eliott and Bennett Brown, Great-Grandsons
  • ~ Seven, Nieces and Nephews

  • St. Paul's Episcopal Church Pastoral Care Fund
  • P.E.O Educational Loan Fund (Supports education for women internationally) P.E.O. Sisterhood
  • Peoria Riverfront Museum


  • Visitation Thursday, April 12, 2018
  • Memorial Service Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mary Jeannette Dickison

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Bonnie Murray Mosiman

March 28, 2018

Dear Debbie and Family,

I was sorry to hear of your mother’s passing, but not surprised that she lived such a long and full life. Even as a child, spending time in your wonderful home, I knew she had something special. Always so warm, welcoming and genuinely interested in you. I kept for many years, a note she sent me when I was confirmed at St. Paul’s. She said she was proud of me, and not just because I joined the church. Lots of memories involving your mom. Just the other day I mentioned to a friend how much fun I had sailing on the river with you, Debbie, summer or winter! After all these years I still have a desire to sail. She was highly regarded by so many, including my mother, and that’s because in spite of all her accomplishments, she possessed a humility and graciousness that she extended to everyone. I know you will miss her deeply.

With Love,

Bonnie Murray Mosiman

Duffy Ronayne

March 20, 2018

Dr. Anne was my dear friend and neighbor for many years in Gainesville, FL. It was through Anne that I came to know and love this amazing family via long distance. Mary embraced life with a passion that was shared by all who knew her. She taught us, to the very end, how to enjoy life and make every day count. I send sincere prayers and blessings as you mourn her loss and continue to celebrate her life and love for you.
Duffy Ronayne

Bob Wilton

March 19, 2018

I've spent some time with Mem comparing genealogical notes. Our families are connected and we exchanged histories that we hadn't had, or should I say I hadn't had. She was a special woman and she will be missed. God bless your family! Bob Wilton

Dr. Allan Campbell

March 19, 2018

What a life well lived with joy and adventure.
It was always a great pleasure to see Mary and
George at the IVY Club. Mary certainly lived a
full life, sharing in all things good.
She will be missed.
Allan and Marlene Campbell