James Evans Dickson, founder of Dickson Furniture, dies at age 82

HOUSTON — Furniture industry veteran James Evans Dickson died on Nov. 22 following a brief illness. He was 82.

Dickson was born Sept. 16, 1941, in Rochester, New York, the son of Gertrude Hunt Dickson and Henry Evans Dickson. When he was 6, his family moved from New York to Houston where he later attended San Jacinto High School, from which he graduated in 1960.

Jim Dickson

Although he never graduated from a university, he accumulated more than 100 college hours in physics and electronics. While in college, he became a private in the U.S. Army and graduated from Officer Candidate School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as a first lieutenant in Air Defense Artillery.

In 1967, he was transferred to Fort Bliss in El Paso where he met Margery Hita Mayfield in late May of that same year. They married six weeks later in St. Clements Episcopal Church and after their wedding, they went to Massachusetts, where he was stationed at Nike Village, a Nike missile site just north of Boston. He was transferred to Korea in 1968 and became commanding officer of the Fourth Battalion Herc, 44th Artillery, Foxtrot Battery, aka Camp Intercept Korea.    

After he left the Army in 1969, Jim and Hita moved to Bellaire, Texas. He and his father became partner salesmen for Oklahoma Furniture Manufacturing in Guthrie, Oklahoma. They later opened the Wholesale Furniture Distributor warehouse in the Houston area to provide products that furniture dealers often requested. He and his wife then moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, where he became assistant sales manager of Oklahoma Furniture Manufacturing. Around this time, his father and mother continued to run the warehouse operation. Following his father’s death, the family moved WFD to its Almeda Road location, where they expanded the operation.

In 1980, he returned to Oklahoma Furniture Manufacturing for two years, running production as an assistant general manager. This experience inspired him to begin his own manufacturing company, Star Products, in Houston in 1982. Shortly after, he expanded Star Products and Wholesale Furniture Distributor, creating a line of U.S.-made furniture supported by distribution facilities in Houston, El Paso, San Antonio, Mississippi, Florida, California and Utah.

The business later became Dickson Furniture Industries, the parent company to contract and hospitality furniture manufacturer Dickson Furniture Manufacturers and case goods importer Dickson Importing, now known as Avalon Furniture.

About 15 years ago, he sold the business to Doug Mueller, the current chief executive officer, and two of Mueller’s business partners, but remained involved in the business up until recently as a consultant. Dickson also is the parent company of Dickson Upholstery, a manufacturer of upholstery for residential and hospitality uses that Mueller and his associates started about five years ago.

“Jim was compassionate, generous, a leader, a mentor, a businessman, a fisherman and an avid fan of every sci-fi Star Trek TV show ever produced,” his obituary stated. In 2017, he became treasurer of The Seva Clinic, a charity clinic in Pearland. He also was the main supporter of Hita’s charity, Christian Helping Hands in Pearland, that she founded in 1984.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his son, James Major Evans Dickson, and his brother, Richard Frederick Dickson.

He is survived by his wife, Margery “Hita” Dickson; nephew Christopher Henry Dickson and wife, Gloria; and a niece, Lori Meunier and husband, Ray. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Cynthia Tyrrell and Suzanna Burns and another nephew and numerous nieces, including Taylor, Alyssa and Kaitlyn Kukulinski and Gabriella and Corbin Dickson. He also will be missed by friends Grant Hadley and Wade Kinsey and a host of many others across the USA.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved founder, Jim Dickson,” Mueller said. “Jim founded what is now Dickson Furniture Industries in 1974 and for almost 50 years Jim was a great leader and mentor to all the Dickson team members. Jim truly was the giant with the shoulders on which we all stand. His passion and enthusiasm for the work is what shaped our company into what it is today.”

“While others were offshoring manufacturing to Asia, Jim’s drive to keep his furniture factory in the United States and his understanding of the importance of employing and growing people domestically made him an industry maverick and admired corporate citizen,” Mueller added. “Dickson team members are not just employees, we are really Dickson family. We will be forever grateful for his dedication to our team, product quality and unmatched work ethic. Jim will always be remembered and cherished for his legacy. We will forever drive to continue building the legacy of Jim Dickson’s namesake business. Jim, your work is done. May you rest in peace.”

A  grand celebration of life will be held in January 2024, date and location TBD. In lieu of the usual remembrances, please donate to the building fund of the future, joint home of The Seva Clinic and Christian Helping Hands. The 12,000-square-foot structure is nearing completion, which Jim truly wanted to see completed. Donations may be mailed to Christian Helping Hands Inc., P.O. Box 34, Pearland, TX 77588-0034. For more details, visit www.jeterfuneralhome.com

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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