James U. Dickson, Jr., 84, of Vadnais Heights, formerly of Falcon Heights, died Dec. 12.

James is survived by his domestic partner, Dianne Gordon, of St. Paul; and his four children, Tom Dickson, Helena, Mont.; Mary Linehan, Lindstrom, Minn.; Jay Dickson, Portland, Ore.; and Bridget O’Connor of Shoreview, Minn.; three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and by a brother, Gary Dickson of Dakota Dunes, S.D. He was preceded in death by three brothers and by his second wife, Ellen O’Connor Dickson. He was previously married to Cheryl Pashby Dickson of St. Paul.

He was born in 1934 in Rapid City, S.D., and spent most of his early life in Sturgis, S.D. James graduated from the University of South Dakota with a business degree, and worked with his father in forest-products and construction businesses in Sturgis, and then was employed by forest-products associations in Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore. 

In 1967, the Great Northern Railway in St. Paul hired him. For that organization, which eventually became the Burlington Northern Railroad, James held various executive positions in St. Paul, Fort Worth, Tex., and Denver, Colo., as head of market research and economic services, lobbyist, and speechwriter.

After an early retirement, James moved back to the Twin Cities and put his master’s degree in communications to work teaching speech and writing for 10 years to graduate students at St. Mary’s and Hamline universities. During that time, he was a successful freelance writer and business communication consultant.

He also served two terms on the Minnesota Business Partnership board and was an accomplished potter. Memorials may be given to Giving Voice, the Twin Cities organization for choruses for people living with dementia and their loved ones, at givingvoice.org/donate. 

A memorial service was held on Dec. 30 at the Como Park Conservatory.

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