Former Clark County District Attorney George Dickerson died last week at his home in Maine. He was 96.
Family members remembered Dickerson as a honest and ethical man in both his personal and professional lives.
“I think he’s a man that sought fairness and justice for all,” Michael Dickerson, his grandson and Clark County chief deputy district attorney, said Thursday. “It’s something that he believed in with all his might.”
Dickerson was born in San Francisco in 1923 to Una and Denver Dickerson. His father, who served as Nevada governor from 1909-1911, died when Dickerson was 2, and his mother raised eight children on her own.
Dickerson always revered his mother and insisted that it was her influence that made him the man he was.
“He said his mom, Una, was the greatest hero of his life,” his daughter, Diane Dickerson, said.
He spent 70 years in Las Vegas and 50 years practicing law. Dickerson graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and then the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Dickerson served in the Navy during World War II and passed the Nevada Bar Exam in 1949.
He began his career as a deputy district attorney when the office, which now employs over 100 attorneys, was made up of the district attorney and two deputies.
Dickerson worked for the office for four years before he was elected Clark County district attorney in 1954.
After his four-year term was up, Dickerson went into private practice until he retired at 75. During that time, he started his own firm in 1986 with his son Bob Dickerson. He was a trial lawyer his entire career.
“He was a lawyer’s lawyer,” Bob Dickerson said. “He was the kind of lawyer I’d want representing me, that any lawyer would want.”
Family members said Dickerson’s law career was marked by his strong sense of ethics and a love for the law.
“Every judge he appeared before knew that any word that came out of George Dickerson’s mouth they could take to the bank,” Bob Dickerson said.
Dickerson took a personal interest in every client he represented. Family members remember a client convicted of murder, whom Dickerson represented pro bono, wrote letters to Dickerson from prison. After the man’s release, Dickerson let the client live in his home because he had nowhere to go.
“From our standpoint we were just so proud of him as a person,” Diane Dickerson said. “He made people feel like they were so very special.”
Bob Dickerson said he was inspired to go into law at age 4 when he watched his father at work in the courtroom for the first time.
“He’s been my mentor all my life,” Bob Dickerson said.
Dickerson was appointed as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission in 1966 and was president of the State Bar of Nevada from 1973-74. He served as the attorney for the Clark County Convention Authority for 20 years.
“It’s the funny thing about him — he accomplished so much professionally, but he was defined by what he accomplished personally. That’s what he was most proud of,” Dickerson’s grandson Dan Merica said.
He said his grandfather attended every football game Merica played in, and took great interest in his journalism career and in all of his children’s and grandchildren’s passions.
“He was the epitome of what the perfect grandpa should be,” Merica said. “We were all taught equally that the best thing we could be in life was honorable, honest, dignified and respectful.”
Dickerson took pride in his 70-year marriage to his wife, Doree Dickinson; his three children, Bob, Bill and Diane; and 11 grandchildren, all of whom survive him.
A celebration of Dickerson’s life will be held at a later date.