Thursday, January 14, 2010

Longtime NRA Technical Editor Pete Dickey Dies

Peter Dickey

Age: 79

Cause of death: Respiratory arrest as a result of emphysema

Died: 5am January 3, 2010 Fair Oaks Hospital, Fairfax, VA

Place of birth: Po, France

Residence: Reston, Virginia. Lifetime resident of WashingtonDCarea (family
were longtime DC residents).

Work History:

In 1943 Pete Dickey became the youngest person ever to serve as a page in the United States Senate. After attending the University of Virginia, he served as a medic in the Korean War, then held leading positions at Garcia Corporation and Firearms International. In 1974, he became Technical Editor of American Rifleman magazine where he authored more than 140 feature articles as well as hundreds of columns and book and product reviews. He also ran the National Rifle Association’s Technical Department, including the acquisition and return of test guns and the management of its extensive gun inventory.

His knowledge of the design and engineering of firearms was respected throughout the firearms industry and he was sought out by firearms company owners and designers for his insights and opinions throughout his career. Colleagues agreed that Dickey was able to describe and explain the technical aspects of any firearm with an economy of words far surpassing that of other writers in the field. The enthusiasm he brought to describing the rich history of firearms and his ability to convey a nearly unrivaled knowledge of the ways in which different types of guns actually work earned him a worldwide reputation in the field. Dickey’s tenure at NRA continues to impact the firearms industry as a whole and many of the men who worked on his Technical Staff are now editorial leaders in the firearms industry.

He is survived by his wife Janet Gilchrist Dickey of Reston, Virginia, two brothers, B. Gordon Dickey of Front Royal, VA and Col. Robert R. Dickey, USMC (Ret.) of Huntly, VA, a son, Alec Dickey of Alexandria, VA and a daughter, Eleanor Dickey of Reston, VA.

Additional information provided by NRA colleagues:

Dickey oversaw the move of NRA Publication's Technical Staff from it's Washington, DC, headquarters to Herndon, VA, in 1987 and again from Herndon, VA, to NRA's new headquarters in Fairfax, VA in 1994. He revived the NRA Firearms Fact Book, and constantly devised clever tools and mechanisms that made the Technical Staff’s work easier and more precise.

Though in a position where he could obtain nearly any firearm he wanted, Dickey remained utterly indifferent to expensive firearms. Former American Rifleman Managing Editor, Ron Keysor, recalls, "Someone once gave me a Stevens Favorite rifle action with some of the parts missing. Pete promptly traded me out of this forlorn remnant of an inexpensive boy's rifle and set about locating the parts to put it back into operation. He loved to make or fix things, and his brass knuckle knives, cane guns and other creations were memorable."

Dickey was more than just an editor or co-worker to NRA Publications and his Technical Staff. His directness and utter honesty appealed to all, though all had their turn on the receiving end of some of his comments.

A Man of Contradictions, by Doug Barnes

Pete could . . .
develop a detailed technical manual for firearms enthusiasts or hand make a Christmas card featuring a picture from his recent colonoscopy.
tell his boss he really needed to screw himself or tell a 6 six-year old girl his favorite movie was also the Little Mermaid.
develop a new semi-auto handgun or design and build a birdhouse from a soup can lampooning Bill Clinton and "the cigar."
show his table manners and dine 5 star with Janet or hand you a MRE and tell you it was delicious (with the exception of the bean component marked: do not consume before flight.)
shoot a bumble bee from the air with a pistol or shoot a summer sausage from a cannon inside the house, through the open kitchen door.
make no distinctions based on your race but condemn you as a fool based on one statement.
seem to be a liberal or a conservative within a five minute span.
be unwilling to participate in any "foolishness" one minute or have you rolling on the floor with a cutting comment directed at . . . well, anyone the next minute.
never saw the value in competition but refused to lose when it came to authority (perceived or real) telling him what to do.
never heard what you said but was willing to shout "Say again!" as many times as it took for you to increase your decibel level.