In Memory

John Lawrence "Larry" Dickson - Class Of 1972

Deceased Classmate: Larry Dickson (1972)
Date Of Birth:
Date Deceased: May-11-2009
Age at Death: 55
Cause of Death: Cancer
Classmate City:
Classmate State:
Classmate Country:
Survived By:

Larry signed my yearbook at one of the reunions with his new name. He had changed his name to Nick West. I had been trying to remember it for a couple of years, when i happened to look in the YEARBOOK. There it was in his own hand. A google search turned up an obituary. I just missed him! The article entitled REMEMBERING NICK WEST includes a photo which is unmistakeable.
 Candace Hibbard Lillie

(Picture above and Obituary below)

Nick West, a staff member in the Development and College Relations Office of the College of Letters and Science, died of cancer on Monday, May 11 at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley. He was 55 years old. 

West began work at UC Berkeley in the summer of 2008 and, in a very short period of time, made a lasting impression. As a coordinator of events for L&S, West seemed to thrive in the fast-paced, demanding environment of college relations. He whizzed through projects with a smile, no matter how much was going on. At donor events he was at his best, his strongest asset being an approachable, friendly style. He always worked efficiently behind the scenes, paying attention to event details. While striving to accomplish the work at hand, West's focus was always on future opportunities. His positive attitude not only enhanced the quality of his own work and life, it made a difference in the lives of everyone who knew him.

Although his battle with cancer was ongoing, West's death came as a surprise to many. Upon receiving word of his passing, Janet Broughton, Acting Executive Dean of L&S said, “I am so saddened to hear this news. I have Nick’s loved ones and everyone in College Relations in my thoughts today.”

Shail Kumar, the senior director for external relations, worked extensively with West. “Nick was a wonderful colleague with admirable qualities,” Kumar said. “His personal strength in the face of pain and suffering was inspirational. He always had positive energy about him and did good work. I truly enjoyed working with him and will miss him.”

John McKee, dean of College Relations and Development for the College, summarized the sentiments of West's colleagues, saying, “those who worked with him will remember Nick as a truly kind and gentle soul whose time at Berkeley was much too short.”


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10/20/10 01:11 AM #1    

Gina Monroe Moreland (Miller) (1972)

There's always a special place in your heart for your first love, and Larry was mine. From sophomore year through the year after college, when we lived in a big group house together in Washington DC, we were a couple. I was very sad to read on this site that Larry (aka Nick West) passed away just over a year ago, and ironically, he was working in Berkeley CA just blocks from my office when he died. I'm sorry we did not run into each other; it would have been something to catch up, remember those intense high school years on the (extraordinarily competitive) debate team, avoiding the restrictions of his family on our "exclusive" dating and the police who always seemed to find us in a cul de sac when we were making out. What I remember most about him was how incredibly funny and smart he was. Does anyone remember Mrs. Cerwinski, our sophomore year math teacher who was nearly incapable of communicating a complex thought (though she probably understood the math all right). Larry and others kept a log of all the unhelpful things she said ("why is a wall a wall?") in response to student questions. It was hilarious if a bit unkind, and one day the challenge to her pedagogy went too far and she abruptly left class never to return. Of course he was chosen to give the commencement speech at our graduation. He was brillant and eloquent, beyond his years. And he should have won the final regional debate tournament of his senior year and gone on to represent Westchester at Nationals but by some strange upset, my partner and I represented Texas instead. I credit Larry for being the first to open my eyes to the larger and more complex world of politics, to music, to humor and so much more. Monty Python, Gahan Wilson, Firesign Theater ("uh, Clem"), British alternative rock anyone? At Georgetown in 1972, he was reading the Washington Post when the Watergate scandal was being broken by the then unknowns, Woodward and Bernstein. No other major paper was covering this story.  All that fall, he sent me newspaper clippings to my college dorm in Massachusetts (snail mail!). His clarity of thought in perceiving that this would ultimately change the political landscape and his persistence in trying to convince me changed my mind by the time the November elections came around. I owe Larry for initiating my lifelong belief in progressive politics and theories of moral and social justice. Reading his blog the last two years of his life, when he was battling cancer, I could hear in his voice the core of his loving kindness toward others shining through. Thirty years of Larry's life are a mystery to me, as often happens with first loves, but I know in the end he was the same thoroughly decent, optimistic person he was in high school. Remembered, and missed. Rest in peace.

12/02/13 04:46 PM #2    

Samuel Haynes (1970)

Watching Larry Dickson become a first class debater in High School was a pleasure. Whenever he asked for a little guidance or help he was among the few who appreciated an effort beyond themselves. Those that knew him in the high pressure world of debate in those long ago years were not surprised with the ease in his competitions and the respect he showed to the team in striving for excellence.


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