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James Raleigh Dickey passed away peacefully at home in North Little Rock on Sunday, October 23, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. He was 76. James is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Brenda; daughter, Jill and her husband Brian of Austin, Texas; and brother, Johnny Ray of Tucson, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his father, Odin Dickey; mother, Willie Mae Jones-Smith; brother, William Dickey; and sister, Anna Prawl.
James was born March 12, 1946, in Memphis, Tennessee. As the much younger brother of 4 siblings, James was both picked on and doted upon. His love of animals began at an early age and occasionally he was successful at skipping elementary school to play with his cats and dogs. He graduated from Westwood High School in 1964 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team and basketball team captain.
James was drafted during the Vietnam war after his sophomore year of college. He was deployed to Germany with the rank of SP4 serving as Military Police for the US Embassy. He graduated in 1970 from Memphis State with a Business degree.
James was known for his sparkling blue eyes that would light up every time he laughed. He was voted most handsome at his high school and never lacked for admirers. He met Brenda Webb when they worked together at Sears in Memphis. It was love at first sight for Brenda when she saw James across the room. James was close in age to his nieces and nephews, who all adored their Uncle Jimmy and did not approve of this new woman taking his attention. Brenda endured repeated mustache drawings on her pictures before winning over the entire Dickey family. After two years of dating, James and Brenda married in Ripley, Tennessee on February 4, 1973, and settled in Memphis.
James’ early loves were Brenda and their Bull Terrier, Tinkerbell, a faithful companion for 12 years. James had approximately 15 furry friends throughout his life, treating each one as a cherished member of the family.
James and Brenda relocated to North Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978 for James' new career. His incredible work ethic, honesty, and customer service were legendry among his co-workers and customers throughout his 33-year career as a manufacturer’s representative and partner at Associated Products. He voluntarily mentored apprentices in his profession and was a member of the Electric League of Arkansas. After moving to Arkansas, he became an avid Razorback sports fan. His love/hate relationship often ended by turning off a losing game, which of course would ensure an overtime comeback. A consummate handy man with an engineer's mind set, James performed all the home improvements during their 44 years on Greenbank Road. He was notorious for making multiple trips to the hardware store but always finished the job. His yard was the envy of the neighborhood where he and Brenda landscaped a dirt pile into an oasis of flowers, layered decks, exotic trees, fencing, and hand laid stone sidewalks. James worked in the yard until one month before his death.
When a spunky baby girl they named Jill Renee was born in 1979, his wife and daughter became his entire world. A devoted father, James and Jill were “two peas in a pod”, with almost matching personalities. Their close bond included constant inside jokes, eye rolls, and deep laughter. When calling on customers in northwest Arkansas, 4 hours away, he would often leave before 5 AM to be home for dinner and family time.
When he retired, in 2011, Brenda bought James his dream car, a 2007 Porsche Cayman Turbo S to tour the countryside. He also restored his 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme which won several awards at the Lamar, Arkansas car show.
James’ endless curiosity was evident in his love for travel and the natural world. James was most relaxed while scuba diving, in which he achieved the rank of Master Diver. He looked for every opportunity to dive, infamously diving in Greers Ferry Lake regularly just to clean the bottom of the family’s pontoon boat. His passion became a family affair, with Brenda and Jill joining numerous dive trips for family vacations. This love took them to countless exotic locations including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, monkey refuge in Borneo, Bali, liveaboards in Hawaii and the Caribbean, Malaysia, the Sea of Cortez, skyscrapers in Singapore, a month-long trip in Panama, ringing in the new millennium in Bonaire, and camel-guided desert dinners with his niece, Phyllis, in Dubai.
James and Brenda became born again Christians on August 13, 2014, and were baptized at Faith Baptist. James bravely battled stage IV pancreatic cancer for over 8 years defying the odds of a 3% 5-year survival rate. Always a determined fighter, he endured the surgery, numerous cancer treatments, and trips to MDA in Houston because he did not want to leave Brenda, Jill, and Brian. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25
Visitation will be from 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at Smith-Sherwood Funeral Home (7700 Hwy 107) with a funeral service following at 11:30 AM. Interment will follow at 1:00 PM at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or Christians United for Israel in James’ memory.
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
10:30 - 11:30am (Central time)
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
11:30am - 12:30pm (Central time)
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Starts at 1:00pm (Central time)
Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery
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