Athletics: Fall 2017
Author: John Wykoff
Posted: September 15, 2017

Honoring football great Arthur Dickson

WHEN FORMER Viking football player Tony Beatty ’78 was approached about getting involved with PSU Athletics, he knew exactly what form he wanted that involvement to take.

Beatty, who graduated with a degree in psychology and went on to earn a master's degree, is currently senior vice president for SIOR, a commercial real estate firm in Walnut Creek, California. He said he wanted to provide funds for an Arthur Dickson Memorial Scholarship. He had played four years, 1973 to 1976, in the Viking defensive backfield with Dickson, who died in 1998 of a rare stomach cancer.

Beatty had greatly admired Dickson, who had had a profound effect on his life, he says.

"Art was a competitor. He practiced hard, played hard, didn't complain, always picked up his teammates and never made excuses," says Beatty. The two teammates played under coaching legend Mouse Davis.

With Dickson at free safety and Beatty at right cornerback, "needless to say, we communicated every day, and every play on the field. Off the field, Art and I lived in the same (Goose Hollow) apartment complex."

He describes Dickson as "a reserved, kind, classy and quiet man who always let his play do the talking. I can remember many a time I was playing man coverage on the outside, only to have Art swoop in and make a flying interception over my head."

Dickson still holds the PSU career interceptions record at 29 and his oldest son, Aubre ’98, a KeyBank vice president and senior relationship manager who also serves on PSU's Athletic Director's Board, recalled that was a source of great pride for his father.

"He would occasionally talk about some of the big plays he made (and did not make) in his career. And, of course he took a lot of pride in the fact that he was the record holder for interceptions. He would joke that if he had better hands, he would've had 100 because he knocked down a lot and dropped even more," says Dickson, who followed in his father's footsteps into a Viking football uniform. Aubre left the team his redshirt junior season in 1996 due to injuries.

Aubre's younger brother Aaron ’09, currently male leadership coordinator for Self Enhancement Inc., had a successful football career at Portland State from 2005 to 2008, choosing the school over several other offers because of family ties. He also recalled his father's pride in the interception record.

"Prior to my arrival on campus, it became my duty to break the record. Unfortunately, I fell a little short, ending my career with four," Aaron says laughing.

His dad's career did have a profound effect, though.

"I was 12 years old when our father passed away, so I didn't have the privilege of having him at all of my games," says Aaron. In college, he wore his father's number 26 and his actual jersey under his uniform every game. "Mentally this was my way of having him with me during those times."

ARTHUR DICKSON "was a 6'2" specimen of fluidity and athletic grace with zero body fat," says Beatty. He earned a free agent tryout with the Dallas Cowboys and roomed with Tony Dorsett for a few days his rookie year in camp. Unable to pass the physical, he spent a couple years playing for the Calgary Stampede and played competitive softball. He'd been drafted by the Kansas City Royals to play baseball out of high school, but chose football until he became too sick to play, says Aubre Dickson.

Arthur Dickson worked for United Grocers until the time of his death.

"I feel a profound sense of regret and loss that Art's life was cut short while he was in his prime. I know Art and I would not have been able to attend college if not for a football scholarship, and those four years did more to shape my life than any other I can remember," says Beatty.

Dickson's qualities as a player and a person "are cherished in the business world. College football teaches boys how to become men, take responsibility for themselves, work through discomfort and pain, never giving up and always striving to win," he says.

Aubre remembers his dad as a hardworking guy who was difficult to please. Besides working at United Grocers, Arthur Dickson had a janitorial business. “Both my parents were most concerned with me doing well academically and would reward me with special gifts or treats for making Honor Roll." And, he says, he finds himself doing the same thing with his sons.

The first Arthur Dickson Memorial Scholarship was awarded at the start of the 2016 season to running back Mitch Thompson, who head coach Bruce Barnum described as embodying "all the things I want this program to represent … tough, blue-collar football. He works hard, does everything you ask of him, never complains, and sacrifices for the team. He is respectful, leads by example and is a great young man on and off the field."

Thompson, originally a walk-on player from Oregon City, will graduate next year with a degree in finance. He described the scholarship as "an incredible honor, even bigger because it's honoring Arthur Dickson, who was such a big part of Portland State's football history. It relieves a lot of financial stress and allows me to continue to play the game I love."

Written by John Wykoff ’65, a feature writer for PSU Athletics who worked for the Vanguard as a student. He went on to a 38-year career in public relations in Portland.

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Photo captions: A teammate has funded a scholarship in memory of Arthur Dickson (above and left), who played Viking football from 1973 to 1976 and still holds the career interceptions record.

Aaron Dickson ’09 wore his father's number 26 and his actual jersey under his uniform every game he played for the Vikings from 2005 to 2008.