Charles Henry “Hank” Dickson, 1931-2013

As many of you know, Hank Dickson asked me to take over the judging of computer science projects in local science  fairs in 2006.  He had been judging at these fairs for many years, but was finding it  increasingly difficult to get around.  By this I was introduced to DC ACM as well, for which I am grateful.

In the late 1960’s he served as the editor of DC ACM’s newsletter, CompuTopics.  He volunteered as a special awards judge at many DC Metro area science fairs for DC ACM as well as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for ACM.  His last service to DC ACM was as a judge for the Montgomery County, Maryland high school science fair in 2005.

In 1955, his first federal job as a Junior Management Assistant was with the International Cooperation Administration, a predecessor of USAID. It had him working on equipment like IBM electronic accounting machines and exploring source data automation.  Later, at the old National Bureau of Standards, he became the leader of an NBS/USDA team which designed and programmed a computer-based accounting system for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) — it ran for 15 years.  According to the General Accountability Office, it was the first system to ever use computers to detect double-payments or over-payments in the dollar-rich federal flow.

His last assignment was with the Hydrology Laboratory of the Natural Resources Institute, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, ARS, USDA.  In 1994 he received an award as HL’s mentor for the HIGH SCHOOL/HIGH TECH program designed to provide summer job experiences  in a high-tech environment to students with physical disabilities.  He retired in 1995 after 35 years of Federal service.

In the 1980’s he founded the Capital Area Timex-Sinclair user group  and co-founded, with Lee Ohringer, the event known today as National Computer Security Day.  He also conducted “computer literacy workshops” for pre-teens at various local libraries.

In the 1990’s and 2000’s he was a volunteer for the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP), sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defence, an eight week summer program for high school students.

From 1996 to 2005 he was an adult volunteer at Seabrook Elementary School, where he helped the faculty become comfortable with their expanding use of the internet.  Two years in a row he received recognition as the school’s most outstanding adult volunteer.

He passed away after a long illness on the morning of March 5th, 2013 and is survived by son Charles Dickson III, daughter Cora Dickson, brother Pete Dickson, and 2 granddaughters, Tabitha and Nina.


William Fielder

Chair, DC ACM, 2007 – 2009