FAIRBURY - Kate Hamilton Dickey, 93, formerly of Fairbury, passed away of multiple complications Jan. 9, 2009, in Little Rock, Ark.
Her body was donated to the University of Arkansas Medical School at her request. A memorial service will be in Fairbury at a date yet to be announced.
She was born in Kansas City, Mo., on April 5, 1915, daughter of parents, Albert Prather and Catherine Atchison Hamilton of Richmond, Mo. At age 16, she started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse, and from there, proceeded to work her way through college, finally obtaining a degree in education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1936.
In 1942 during World War II, her desire to aid in the war effort led to what became a 65-year involvement with the American Red Cross. One of her first assignments was as a field representative in Illinois where she revitalized dormant Red Cross chapters. She directed nearly 2,000 volunteers and Coast Guardsmen during the 1943 Illinois River flood. She went on to serve as a volunteer in local, regional and national capacities with Red Cross.
She and Capt. Edmund F. Dickey married Dec. 14, 1943, and in 1949, they moved to Fairbury, where he became president of Honeggers & Co., a poultry and livestock feed company. Kate lived there until October 2007, when she moved to Little Rock to be near family.
During her lifetime, and especially after Mr. Dickey's death in 1967, she spent her time working behind the scenes on boards of numerous organizations: Evenglow Lodge, Pontiac, as board member and president; Fairbury School Board; Methodist Medical Center, Peoria; and Cunningham Children's Home, Urbana. She also worked to recruit physicians for Fairbury Hospital.
While Kate was an astute businesswoman, she also was a wonderful musician. She directed the Fairbury Methodist Choir for years, but the love of her life was teaching piano, from which she finally retired in August 2007, after teaching countless numbers of students on the two beautiful grand pianos that graced her spacious living room.
Kate embraced challenges in her life. She learned to fly a single-engine airplane, played a fine game of golf and traveled extensively. When she was in her 80s, she bought her first computer, took computer classes and became quite proficient with daily e-mails. Each day she read at least two newspapers, numerous news and business magazines, and could converse on a broad number of topics.
Survivors include her step-daughter, Donna Simmons; and her children, Guy and Marret; five nieces and nephews and their children; and numerous cousins.
Options for memorial contributions include your local Red Cross chapter or the American Red Cross of the Heartland, 101 E Locust St., Fairbury, IL 61739; Fairbury United Methodist Church, 200 East Maple St., Fairbury, IL 61739; Cunningham Children's Home, 1301 N. Cunningham Ave., Urbana, IL 61802; or Evenglow Lodge, 215 E. Washington St., Pontiac, IL 61764.
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