Nina, the keystone of our family, passed away after an extended illness on August 31, 2019. With the support of her family, she bravely fought with hope and a smile. She has finally found peace.
Nina was the first born of Alta and Houston Roane in Norman, Oklahoma. She was followed in birth order by brothers Samuel, James, and Marvin Dickey. Apparently, theirs was a rambunctious childhood on the farm, with an extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins nearby. She admired her musical aunts who sang and played the organ at the University of Oklahoma. She was a dutiful niece and daughter, working in the milk house at the family farm, Boyd Dairy, and helping with harvest in the apple orchard. The stories of adventure with her brothers and her cousin, Louise, of hard work, misadventures, favored critters, and her red pickup truck, are endless, and may differ according to who is the storyteller! She studied hard at school and earned a reputation for intelligence and creativity. She attended Oklahoma State University as a pre-veterinary major, where she met Gerald in the engineering building. They discovered a common purpose and were married on June 6, 1954, in the McFarlin Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma.
Nina and Gerald began their life adventure in Houston, then Pasadena, Texas, where Gerald worked for Shell Oil Company. Nina enrolled at the University of Houston, intending to finish her bachelor degree. This objective was interrupted with the arrival of first, Deborah, then Cheryl, and Gerald Dickey. She was a dedicated mother and encouraged her children to be well mannered, hardworking, curious, and adventurous. In 1960, the family was transferred to New Jersey. Nina was an active advocate for her children’s education, supporting and encouraging each of their unique abilities and challenges. She organized numerous camping adventures at the nearby lake and at numerous regional locations from the Pennsylvania Poconos, Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Monticello, Washington DC, Ocean City, to the Smoky Mountains. There were the annual, 3 day- long road trips to Oklahoma to visit extended family, which for several years entailed a family of five, with dog and cat, in a Ford Mustang (and no air conditioning)! We kids loved our Oklahoma adventures at our grandparent’s home, where we often met up with our cousins and were permitted to run wild, play in the creek, and ride horses. Then, one summer, the family bought a horse in Oklahoma, leading to a move to the New Jersey countryside, and more horses!
As her children became more independent and progressed in school, Nina finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics, worked as a teacher in a local school district, and then returned to academia to finish a Master’s Degree in Child Developmental Psychology at Glassboro State College in Glassboro, New Jersey. She contributed to the development of a curriculum guide for Infants and Toddlers as an Instructor at the Bozorth Early Childhood and Demonstration Center at the Glassboro State College. She was an intelligent, open-minded, academic who emphasized the value of creative intelligence in academic achievement. Her thesis examined divergent cognitive styles in Academic Overachievers.
In 1975, the family was transferred to Houston, Texas. One by one her children went away to college and found their spouses. Nina worked as a School Psychologist, performing specialized testing and advocating for appropriate educational choices for children with diverse educational challenges. She also became a canary enthusiast and won numerous national awards for her birds, continuing to breed champion birds long after her health forced her to leave her profession. Soon, there were grandchildren: Christie, Jarrett, and Jason. Gerald and Nina invested in a property in Galveston, Texas, and there spent a lot of time with their new young’uns! When their home in Kingwood was flooded in 3 feet of water from the San Jacinto River, they discovered the true meaning of family and friends who responded in their hour of need. And when they had recovered from that, they chose to move far from that river, to Norman, Oklahoma, in 1995. Back in Norman, they could be closer to extended family; Gerald’s in Haskell, and her brothers Jim and Samuel and her cousin Louise, along with some nephews and nieces. Cheryl’s family also moved back to Norman, and they enjoyed participating in her family’s homebuilding and the creation of the Thunderbird Wedding Chapel. They also enjoyed travel and visiting with son, Gerry, and his wife in California, exploring Huntington Gardens and the California life-style. A later grandchild, Cameron, meant lots of trips to the Colorado mountains and Fort Collins. They enjoyed camping every fall near Rocky Mountain National Park, listening to the elk bugle. In 2010, Deborah’s family also moved to Norman to build a homestead. She and Gerald were vicariously entertained by farm/ranch adventures, as Deborah’s family struggled to establish a goat dairy, free range chickens, and vegetable gardens, contributing their help and wisdom remembered from childhood. When Christie’s family grew, Nina enjoyed great grandchildren, Myla and Merek. Nina was also a big supporter of music through her grandchild, Cameron. Nina supported Gerald through a lengthy illness until he passed in 2016, and now Nina has gone to join him in our memories.
Her wish was to have a memorial service in the fall to celebrate her life. The service will be held on November 3 at 2:00 pm at Thunderbird Chapel in Norman. In lieu of gifts or flowers, she asked that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105