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Celebrating the life of Col. Harvey M. Dick

Harvey Dick, former assistant commandant of cadets in charge of discipline and long-time member of The Citadel Board of Visitors, died on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, after a short, but tough battle with cancer. He was 84.

Strong-willed with an opinion to match, Dick was a caring father figure, mentor, disciplinarian and friend to two generations of cadets – and some of their children who became cadets – who are now mourning his passing along with everyone in The Citadel family.

Dick saw his alma mater undergo a lot of change in the nearly 60 years since he graduated as a veteran student. He served under seven Citadel presidents and eight commandants and was witness to the campus and Charleston recovery efforts following Hurricane Hugo in 1989. During his tenure as a board member, Dick oversaw the rebuilding of four cadet battalions and had a front row seat to The Citadel’s shift from single gender to co-education in the 1990s.

Dick’s love of The Citadel ran deep, and his love for and impact on the lives of the students he mentored and disciplined are profound.

“Lt. Col. Dick was that father figure that some of us never had. His personality, combined with his endless love for The Citadel, almost made him a living caricature,” said Paul Tamburrino, Class of 1989 and father to a current cadet. “But there is no such thing as embellishing a Lt. Col. Dick story, as he was larger than life.”

At football games, Tamburrino and other cadets would chant Dick’s name to get his attention.

“The Corps was still on the home side, and we all knew where Lt. Col. Dick had his seats with his wife, Miss Margie. We loved him so much that we would cheer him until he would finally turn and wave us off, with his disapproving but loving look,” he said. “You just knew that he loved it.”

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 9, 1927, Dick left high school in 1945 to join the Marine Corps and fight in World War II. As a Marine, Dick earned the rank of sergeant before he was discharged in April 1948.

Upon returning to his hometown of Charleston, Dick enrolled in Charleston High School to earn his diploma. During this time, he was torn between attending The Citadel and reenlisting in the Marines. Financial assistance from the first Brigadier Club Scholarship awarded allowed him to enroll at The Citadel and play center on the Bulldog football team. Following his graduation in 1953, Dick was commissioned in the Army as an artillery officer. He served in the Army until his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in 1977.

Throughout his service with the Army, Dick attended several service schools and held a number of key military assignments including two tours each in Germany and Vietnam. In Germany, he commanded an artillery battalion. In honor of his military service, he was awarded numerous medals and commendations including the Army Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Army Commendation with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Gold Star, Washington Light Infantry Meritorious Service Medal, Vietnam Staff Service Medal First Class, and Vietnam Honor Medal First Class.

Immediately after his retirement from the Army, Dick was appointed as the assistant commandant of cadets. Among his many responsibilities in that position, he managed cadet operations and discipline, supervised the cadet guard, inspected the barracks and planned cadet cadre and freshman training. In 1990, Dick was promoted to colonel in The Citadel’s Unorganized Militia of South Carolina.

Dick’s commitment to students is well known. As assistant commandant he took a genuine interest in the lives and leadership development of cadets. In 1986, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award “in recognition of and appreciation for the unselfish gifts of his time and talents used to enrich the lives of cadets.”

Tamburrino said: “I think the impact that Lt. Col. Dick had on me, and many of my fellow cadets, was his firm but fair nature. He taught us that we are accountable for our actions, even when it was inconvenient.

“When you saw him walking into the barracks, you just stood a little straighter, walked a little faster,” Tamburrino said, “and you quickly made sure that your personal appearance was in order.”

Many alumni make Dick’s Grove Street home their first stop when they come to Charleston. In recent years Dick and his wife Margie were a sponsor family for freshman cadets whose families lived out of state. Day and night they opened their home to knobs, giving them a place of respite from the rigorous first year and guiding and mentoring them as surrogate parents.

When it came to the cadets, Dick always seemed to know who did what when. And he knew it without the benefit of modern technological conveniences such as laptops, cell phones and email. Call it an odd sixth sense.

Ricky Sanders, Class of 1994, recalls Thanksgiving 1991. It is a custom for the Corps to be served a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and this celebration was marked by the typical cadet revelry. The holiday furlough was near, and everyone was in good spirits.

“During dinner some pranksters excused themselves and covered his infamous late 1970’s model wood-paneled Ford station wagon in shaving cream and toilet paper. As he exited the mess hall everyone crowded around to see his reaction,” Sanders said. “With a grin on his face, he had a good laugh. He also stopped to talk to us about how much we meant to him, to be safe going home because—believe it or not—any of us would be missed if we didn’t make it back.

”He could have very easily created a tornado of white slips,” Sanders said. “It spoke volumes that he didn’t.”

Shortly after retiring as assistant commandant in 1993, Dick was elected to the Board of Visitors, the college’s governing board, as an alumni representative. He served two six-year terms, from 1993 to 1999 and from 2001 to 2007.

Dick was also very active in the Charleston community as a member of several civic associations and nonprofit groups. Among these are the Omar Shrine Temple, Hibernian Society, Association of Citadel Men, Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, National Sojourners, Washington Light Infantry Board of Directors, Ark Lounge, Middleton Place Foundation, Charleston Footlight Players, Boy Scouts, American Legion Post 112, Charleston Retired Officers Association, as well as his role as a junior warden at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul.

Dick is survived by his wife of 59 years, Margie, of Charleston, S.C.; one daughter, Deborah Dick Byers, of North Charleston, S.C.; two sons: Harvey Merrill Dick, II, Citadel Class of 1978, of North Charleston, S.C., and Lt. Col. Harold Michael Dick, United States Army retired, Citadel Class of 1981, of Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.; four grandsons: Jason and Bryan Byers, Andrew and Harvey M. Dick, III; one granddaughter, Michelle; and one great-grandson, Isaiah Hogg. He was predeceased by his brother, James Russell Dick.

J. Henry Stuhr Inc., Downtown Chapel is in charge of arrangements,

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Summerall Chapel on The Citadel campus. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1, also in Summerall Chapel. Burial will follow the funeral service at Carolina Memorial Cemetery in North Charleston. A reception at The Citadel's Holliday Alumni Center, 69 Hagood Ave., will follow the burial.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial be made to the Lt. Col. Harvey M. Dick Scholarship, the Margie M. Dick Scholarship, and/or The Citadel Brigadier Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, 29409, or online at https://foundation.citadel.edu/harveydick

Memorial messages may be left at www.citadel.edu/harveydick-memories and www.jhenrystuhr.com

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