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A memorial service for William Eugene Dickson will be held on Saturday, August 12th at 1pm at the West Valley Presbyterian Church, 6191 Bollinger Road, Cupertino, California.

In memory of Bill’s passions and life’s work, contributions may be made to LightSys Technology Services, Save the Redwoods League, Covenant Presbyterian Church Missions Department, West Valley Presbyterian Church Missions Department, or the charity of your choice.

LightSys and former GMI colleagues put together some great information on Bill’s ministry.

I set this site up to try and share the multitude of warm wishes, stories, and photos we have received in the last few days. We’re encouraging people to send us memories and photos you have of Bill to inmemorium@dickson4.net. When you do, let us know if you are willing for us to post it here for all those others whose lives were impacted by Bill to read. If you’d like your story to remain private and stay with just our family, please also let us know that when you share.

Thank you,

Jon Dickson

From Loren Muehlius (GMI)

Here are some thoughts about Bill. I knew him from working with him 27 or so years at GMI, Global Mapping International.

I haven’t come up with specific memories of Bill, but definitely remember character traits. Bill was very knowledgeable. If I had a computer issue, I could ask Bill about it and almost all the time he would have an answer. Thus it was very reassuring and comforting to have Bill as a resource. Of course sometimes the answer Bill gave would involve a 5, 10 minute or longer answer. Bill’s knowledge wasn’t only about computers or technical things, but involved a host of other subjects. I considered Bill a walking encyclopedia.

Bill desired to use his answers as teaching times, which I think is one reason they were often long and detailed. He wanted to enable us with his knowledge to be able to do the task or fix the issue ourselves.

He had a great heart to serve people. If our computers at GMI weren’t working, Bill would usually be working to get them back up right away. He helped other people with computer issues as well as with other things such as cars, house repairs, moving, or simply doing ordinary things.

Bill was great at giving time to people even when he had other things on his plate to do. This of course would delay the thing which he had on his plate to do, but it shows how he valued people. It was interesting to see Bill’s interest in people. He would start conversations with restaurant workers, workers at stores, and even a person who simply crossed his path.

He was a very committed person. An indicator of this is the large amount of time, effort, and thought he put into GMI. He spent many hours helping us fellow workers and sometimes days and nights working on computer issues. When our CEO, Mike O’Rear died of a heart attack, Bill stepped in to lead GMI.

All of the above were done with a spiritual motivation. He didn’t do them to get people’s compliments or approval, but since He knew Jesus loved and had served Him, Bill could show and demonstrate Jesus’s love to others. Bill wanted others around him and throughout the whole world to know Jesus, His love, and His offer of salvation to those who put their trust in Him.

I will definitely miss Bill for all his insights, concern for people, and servant heart. However, it is great to know he is now in the presence of His Maker who I’m sure has shared the following words with Bill, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

-- 

Loren Muehlius

From Bob Waymire

Bill and Linda Dickson, “Knowledgeable Servants” 

                                                Sierra College, Memoir Class, June 2016

By Bob Waymire

 

I first met Bill Dickson in 1981 while in the Research and Strategy Dept., of OC International, when Bill visited and asked, “Is there any role for techies in world missions today?”  My immediate response was “Yes, absolutely!  Let’s step into my parlor.”  This led to a pivotal meeting with Bill and a few of his techy friends that next weekend in Menlo Park, California.  They rose to the challenge to put legs to the vision of a computerized mapping system to serve Global Missions.  This led directly to the launching of Global Mapping Project, which became GMI.  After Bill and Linda were married they joined us in Pasadena.

 

It was in the Dickson garage in Palo Alto in early 1982 that I first saw the initial programming/graphics that were the forerunners of the “GMI Globe” prototype mapping system.  He had some close cohorts that were involved, including Pete Holzmann (long time friend, co-worker, programming expert, and on the original GMI Board).  All were some of Silicon Valley’s finest.

 

Bill from that time to the present has been the main ‘technical guru’ of the GMI staff, the implications of which are tremendous and varied.  His technical expertise is matched or exceeded only by his servant’s heart and his capacity for accomplishing complex tasks.   One thing that surely made Bill smile was when, because of my role at GMI, many people thought I was some kind of technical guru myself.  Well…Bill tried to “educate” me on several occasions, but he finally had to give up, which took a load off both of us.  I’ve been forever thankful for Bills’ seemingly infinite affinity for detail.

 

Bill was both technical and contract liaison with our “partner” ESRI, the cartographic giant.  Eventually ESRI’s ArcView mapping system became GMI’s “contribution” to the world missions community.

 

Bill and Linda came to GMI self-supported.  Believe me that was significant in those early days when the best supported were under-supported.  The Dickson’s helped rescue needy GMI on more than one occasion.  (This was not widely known.)

 

One of the profound privileges for me as the Founder of GMI was to see how ‘The Lord of the Harvest’ provided capable and unique individual team members that were key foundation stones upon which GMI has been built…and now continues in innovative expansion under the leadership of Jon Hirst.  Bill and Linda Dickson and many since those earliest days were all “sent to the Kingdom for such a time as this”, and every one a capable and unique servant of their Lord.

 

In this current era during the transition after the ‘surprising’ exodus of Mike O’Rear, and before and including the arrival of Jon Hirst, Bill, in a very wise and sensitive manner, led all of GMI and friends through this very difficult time.  Bill’s willingness to take on the leadership role during the transition epitomized his ‘faithful servanthood’ that has been an example for all, both inside and outside of GMI.

 

Whatever they do, and wherever they go, the team of Bill and Linda Dickson will provide an enriching environment and experience that will glorify their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

My life has been significantly enriched for having known and served with them,

 

Bob Waymire, GMI Founder (emeritus) [Note: penned over a year ago in response to H.S. unction?!]

From Valerie in Singapore

Bill Dickson, a servant leader and mission collaborator

We first met in 1996, when I visited GMI’s office at Mike’s invitation.
That week, Bill introduced me to geo databases and Atlas GIS, a
geographic information system. I recall he had explained various
features in considerable detail. Bill also explained how GMI was helping
God’s people to see the world more clearly through the use of
information resources and mapping.

Bill was a humble servant leader, often serving others quietly but
effectively in the background. We catch a glimpse of Bill’s humility in
his Skype profile: “technology cook and bottle washer at GMI”. Of
course, he was more than that! He was Vice President for Research and
Development (1991-2011). He enjoyed helping others. Bill used his vast
knowledge of computers and information technology to facilitate
countless Christian leaders in their ministry. Bill worked not only with
computer networks and databases; he was also committed to human networks
and relationships.

Bill was a mission information collaborator. He understood the value of
working together with others to acquire and share strategic information
for Christian ministry. Bill developed good relationships with key
information workers at several international mission agencies in the USA
and beyond. This resulted in significant collaborative projects such as
Language Mapping Project, Global Ministry Mapping System, and Mission
Infobank, a library of research resources from and for Christian
leaders. I am grateful to have worked with Bill and others at GMI on a
few projects. As a project manager, Bill had the knack of knowing where
various pieces would fit together, and he always acknowledged the work
of each person in the team.

Our last conversation was on Skype in June this year. With GMI closing,
we reminisced the long time focus and “old” core values. For many years,
GMI’s highest priority had been to serve evangelical mission leaders in
the developing world through partnership with like-minded organizations.
The 2009 annual report had described GMI core values as follows: “With a
heart focused on God’s mission in the world, guided and empowered by his
Spirit, GMI produces and presents applied research, serving others with
excellence through respectful partnerships”. That was how Bill (and
Mike) had served God’s people around the world.

Bill walked in a manner worthy of the calling to which he was called,
“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one
another in love”. (Ephesians 4:1-2, ESV). By God’s grace, may we also
live a life worthy of our calling.

— Valerie in Singapore

J. Nelson Jennings – Onnuri Community Church, Seoul

Dear Family and Friends of Bill Dickson,

Along with many others, I was deeply shocked when I received the news of Bill’s recent accident. Please know of my heartfelt condolences and prayers.
I did now know Bill for nearly as long as others sending you their notes and remembrances. I only met him in January 2016, when I was in the GMI Office at the beginning of my tenure as GMI Global Engagement Director. Bill took the time to sit with me and share some of his extensive institutional memory and areas of mission research expertise. The time and care he gave left a deep impression.
Since that time I enjoyed and appreciated greatly interactions electronically. His contributions to Christian world mission clearly were extensive.
Again, know of my and many others’ shared grief, gratitude, and sure hope in our risen Lord’s grace and mercy.
In Christ,
Nelson

Rev. J. Nelson Jennings, PhD
Serving Christ’s Mission as Networker,
Instructor, Preacher, Scholar, Author
Onnuri Community Church, Seoul
Mission Pastor, Consultant, and International Liaison

Stan & Lorri Nussbaum – GMI

Dear Linda, David, Jonathan, and family,

I have never before had such a hard time believing that someone had died. Perhaps it is that I always saw Bill as so competent in so many ways and so passionate about ministry. In my mind, that makes it seem that he was not finished with his work yet, not even close. It’s incomprehensible that he has switched off his last computer, given his last guidance to a colleague, and come home for the last time.

But in these days that have no explanations, please know that God still has our trust and you have our sympathy. We both deeply appreciated Bill during the years we were privileged to share with him at GMI. And that was such a good final conversation I had with him at your Springs home in June. Seems like yesterday. May Bill’s Lord, yours, and ours comfort you now as only he can.

Peace,
Stan and Lorri Nussbaum

Bruce Wilson – from Memorial Service

Thoughts about and memories of Bill Dickson by Bruce Wilson

Bill was a great friend, an excellent listener, a savvy business partner, a wise counselor, and a thoughtful follower of Jesus.
I met Bill soon after moving to California in 1978.  He was part of the Z-Volk post-college group at Menlo Park Presbyterian.  He seemed nice enough, and I enjoyed chatting occasionally.
This turned into a much deeper connection in the summer of 1979, when Bill, Bob G and I bought a 4 bedroom Eichler house in Palo Alto, that was soon christened “Middlefield Manor”.   Bill’s own business savy as well as his dad’s silent advice, laid the long term health of our business partnership, that could easily have been a horrible mess of broken or strained relationships.
The intentional community that the first 5 guys built, served 20 guys until 1987 when Jane and I changed it from a bachelor pad into a married couple’s home.  Bill’s contribution to the communal life showed up in his excellent cooking that shamed the rest of us into significant improvement’s of our own dinner offerings.  His steady voice at the Monday night house meetings helped to clear up the inevitable conflicts, and prepare our hearts for the prayer meeting that followed right after.  He was a great idea generator for house parties, one costume theme being “Come as your favorite saint or sinner”.
Bill introduced me to cross country skiing in winter and the simple joy of a well planned back pack trip in summer.
During the long years in the house, Bill was a consistent friend to me and the other manorities, always listening first, and then responding with what ever was needed.  Bill shared his own needs and received from others.  He also gave to others.  He was willing to sit in silence to share pain, and not have to give advice.  Sometimes he would share his own experience of God’s leading and have a word of prayer.   And sometimes, Bill would expound at length on what the full background was of some topic, as well as multiple options to solve the problem at hand.
In 1982, Bill launched out of the house
I got a letter dated July 9, 1982 from Bill while I was in Scotland.  It was full of excitement about the impending trip to Seattle, and then going to Pasadena to attend IIS (Institute for International Studies) on Aug 2 to 25.  “After this point I have an almost-firm open-ended offer to work on the U.S Center for World Mission staff”
Indeed, the next several years were on staff at USCWM.
His next letter of March 19, 1984 – was on DataServe Inc. letterhead, with the tag line “Information Technology for Frontier Missions” – which showed that he had indeed gone on staff, and become integral to the technical support operations at the center.
April 12, 1984 DataServe support letter starts off:
— Quote —
Dear Friends,
I give up!  For a year and a half I’ve been gathering up ideas for
the perfect prayer letter.  It should be all that conventional wisdom dictates,
that is, concrete, concise, upbeat, personal, and interesting.  It should
further deal with some unusual requirements that I have, that is, that it
should explain the unexplainably long time it has been since most of you
have heard from me, and give some sensible account of what has taken place
in the interval.  It should, above all, recount the truly remarkable things
that God has done here during the last twenty months.
I wish I knew how to write such a letter.  This is, unfortunately, a fallen
world in which computers break and engineers seldom win Pulitzer prizes.  I
have therefore been persuaded (nay, ordered) by one of my most valued and
wisest counselors (a practitioner of “tough love”) to sit down at a terminal
and write something less perfect.  I will promise to keep these letters
readably short, and will try hard to get them out regularly.  Please overlook
the lack of style, and join me in praising God for the things He has done,
and in interceding for the things yet undone.
— end of quoted section —
This captures his style and his focus on following Jesus.
The letter goes on to describe:
1. Data serve, Inc being founded as “a technical service ministry
2. Global Mapping Project being formed to make available a global scale database of information on the unreached peoples of the world
3. Group of committed computer technologists has been formed in the Bay Area to develop the computer system needed to handle the mapping aspects of the Global Mapping Project
Four years pass with Bill in Pasadena before the next newsletter I have.
January 1988 – the newsletter now records the transition from GMP to GMI.
Global Mapping has become Global Mapping International..
The font is now proportional, there are graphics, a logo, and of course a map of the world.
There is breaking news of an electronic bulletin board that can be accessed by dialing with a modem to a specified telephone number.
To us in 2017, the modem reference is an archaic throw back to ancient technology, but for the time, Bill was part of the team breaking new ground on information collection and sharing.
***
More recent memories are the hikes we had at Rancho San Antonio.  Stories of past times in Pasadena, Colorado and walking the Camino were told and re-told.  His future plans to speed up the pace of publishing various resources books were well thought out and he was drawing me into his dreams.
Now Bill has
 – longer faster data links to the new un-reached people in the next Galaxy
 – bigger clearer idea containers beyond what we call books, either paper or digital
 – time to sit down and continue the conversations with those who got to heaven first
Bill – I will miss you.
Bruce Wilson

How My Boss Became My Boss and Work Memories – Mark and Suzanne Gradin

Wow… I have told the following story in varying levels of detail an innumerable amount of times in the last 5 1/2 years and am saddened beyond measure to have to add another chapter to it:

I met Bill Dickson on Friday, January 6, 2012. My soon to be boss, Mike O’Rear, was showing me around the Global Mapping International offices and introduced me to Bill as well as the rest of the staff. Always full of knowledge and often having a lot to say that first introduction to Bill was no exception and I recall Mike cutting off the conversation at some point and continuing my tour.

A bit later as I sat with Mike and he to asked me if I would be interested in the following job description: he wanted me to come on board at GMI and work very closely with him on “about a dozen projects” he had in mind. “How would you feel about that very vague job description?” he asked. I said that that sounded great! He then told me a bit about what his own job entailed and the stress he was under. After hearing all that fell to him at GMI I finally said to him “Mike, what if you get hit by a bus?!?”

He paused, thought very carefully, and then said “GMI would be better off without a Mike O’Rear than without a Bill Dickson.” He went on to explain that while he was the one who figured out what GMI was going to do, Bill was the one that made it happen.

Mike had me come in that next Tuesday morning at 10:30am to fill out paperwork & get started at GMI. As many of you know, the next morning, Wednesday, January 11, Mike had a severe heart-attack and never regained consciousness….

So after all of 22hrs of being Mike’s assistant, Bill became the interim president and I became his assistant. Those were some pretty difficult times, but God brought us through them. And while Bill moved onto Lightsys last year, and GMI recently ended its ministry, I believe God has done some really good things these last 5 years. Not least of which for me personally is that I met my wife, Suzanne, in GMI’s office (Bill used to take credit for introducing us, which may have been the case, but that’s another story).

I know that Bill was really overwhelmed with what suddenly fell to him as the interim president of GMI, but I tried to do what I could to help him, and one of the most encouraging things anyone has ever said about me was something he often told people: “It’s obvious that Mike’s death didn’t take God by surprise because He brought Mark here the day before.”

God was not surprised by Bill’s death either, and while we’re left to wonder why he couldn’t have stayed with us longer, I know he’s been having a good long conversation with Jesus, and probably figuring out all kinds of cool stuff with Mike.

Mark Gradin


My favorite memory of Bill was that we’d become friends at work, (I worked at David c cook) and he came to my office one day with a huge bag of snack mix and said, “you look like you don’t have any problem with self-discipline and I do. I have a proposal for you. I’d like to keep my bag of snack mix at your desk, and I will come once a day for one cup of it, so I don’t eat more than I want to. In return, you can have some of the snack mix whenever you want. Is spicy ok?” And so begun our daily conversations, when bill came to get his snack mix allotment for the day. It brought such a smile to my face-he was a dear man and I’m going to miss him.

Suzanne Gradin

Warren Cory

Bill was a very smart guy and good counselor and friend, and he was zealous for the things of God.
A year ago on her birthday, Martha (my wife) received the official diagnosis of breast cancer, with good hope for recovery.  She relayed the hopeful prognosis to friends as “good news.”   Bill responded as follows.
“‘If it is for this world only that we have hope, we are of all men most to be pitied’.  Sorry that in this fallen world it counts as good news that in order to live to a normal age we seem to have to let go of our minds and bodies bit by bit.  May the Lord maintain your joy and sense of humor through the un-fun stuff ahead.”
Bill’s hope in this fallen world is ended.  His eternal hope that makes it all worthwhile lies ready to be fulfilled.  But back in this world, we will miss him.
Well done, good and faithful servant.
–Warren Cory

Operation World Team – Jason Mandryk

I inherited a connection with Bill as part of the package when I joined Operation World back in the mid-1990s. How much I learned from him and his friend and colleague Mike O’Rear in those years – about mapping, about databases, about research, about being a Kingdom worker, and about being a man of God.

 

The connection naturally persisted over the decades as the relationship between GMI and OW has always been a close one. And for that I was thankful in ways that extended far beyond the shop talk. I had the privilege of hosting Bill in England during his occasional visits, even as I had the pleasure of staying with him in Colorado Springs. His input and advice to OW throughout the years has been invaluable.

 

Probably the most profound memory is also the most recent. Operation World was moving out – reluctantly but necessarily – from Bulstrode, its home of almost 40 years and into a future unknown. The team had dispersed leaving only two of us as full time team members, but without any confirmation of where we were going to be based in the months and years to come and with a mountain of unfinished tasks. Morale was pretty low. Almost out of the blue, Bill offered his assistance in whatever needed doing. We asked him to take responsibility for packing up and labelling decades worth of books and files that OW had accumulated. It was a dusty, sweaty, heavy, and somewhat monotonous job that took a couple of days, but Bill did it with gusto and joy, and blessed us incredibly in those final few days of our time there – with his prodigious amount of hard work, but also with his encouragement and friendship during a time of major transition.  One of Apple’s early company mantras was “Everyone sweeps the floors” and Bill was a living example of that to us. Christlike servant-heartedness and genuine friendship is perhaps an even better way to describe it.

 

He will be missed by us, but we look forward to a joyful reunion one day!

 

Jason Mandryk, on behalf of the Operation World team

 

Bill at Camp – Cousin Laurie

            Tuesday night at the campfire, Bill sat next to me and wanted to continue talking about what we had touched upon earlier in the day about his recent life changes, our similar difficulties at work, and how he was learning how to pick up after himself (something he mentioned that he should of learned in kindergarten).  The conversation was thoughtful and meaningful and with a  touch of humor.  We sat long past the time that everyone else had left the campfire, much like you do with your best friend or sibling for those special camp talks.  It was the longest conversation I had ever had with Bill.  He left for home the next morning.

On Wednesday night the younger of the Lushington clan came up with the idea that they wanted to make s’mores in the river, so they fashioned a raft, soaked it thoroughly and built a campfire on it.  A table was set in the river festooned with s’more ingredients, and while singing “Burn Fire Burn”, the young ‘uns roasted marshmallows while sitting in the river.  The floating campfire was truly beautiful and the evening was magical.  As the floating campfire drifted off in the current, Carolyn and I spoke of it as a pyre and waved good bye to our imaginary relative as he disappeared into Valhalla.  Carolyn shot the imaginary flaming arrow at the pyre as if to light it while I waved goodbye and it was a playful moment between us.  It wasn’t until the following morning that we learned that Bill had died the previous day some hours before the floating campfire was lit.

Thursday night, at our usual gathering around the fire, we held a memorial campfire for Bill and each told a story or memory of Bill at camp including his increasing openness with us over the past couple of years and, of course, his inspired rendition of  “A Sourdough Story” poem.

We have spent 60 summers or so with Bill at camp, and of the ten cousins who played together so many summers together,  he is the first to leave us.  It is hard to believe he is gone so soon.  Cherish each other and each day.