Dave Dickey remembers that it was Ann who asked him out first — and memorably so.
“She was living in Louisville, Kentucky, at the time,” he said. “We never lived in the same city till we married. And so she called and said, ‘We have a little horse race here, do you want to join me?’ Our first date was the Kentucky Derby!”
It was his introduction to an effervescence of the spirit that friends and family members say drew people to Ann Dickey and stands alongside a life of achievement.
Dickey, 47, of Edina, died of complications from cancer on Sept. 13, only days before she was to be inducted into the Edina Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Thousands of people crowded the church for her services celebrating her life. … She should be in their Hall of Fame,” said her brother, J. Forrest of Minneapolis.
The Edina honor stems in part from the seven letters Dickey won at Edina High School as a member of state championship soccer and golf teams. But her involvement in sports, with an emphasis on encouraging more girls to participate, extended to the end.
Dickey graduated from Edina High School in 1988 and from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1992. She met her husband when she was a sales representative and both of them worked for the same firm.
After she returned to Minnesota, she coached the Southdale Sharks Swim Club for 14 years and helped build the number of swimmers from 20 to 180.
But golf was her passion. Last spring Dickey served as an assistant coach for an Edina team that won a state title for the third year in a row and was co-captained by her daughter. Junior Joanna Kim credited Dickey for inspiring her.
Kim missed a 2-foot putt on her ninth hole of the day, she told a reporter — the sort of shot that “really shakes your mental game.” But then she thought of the battle against cancer waged by Dickey, one of the nicest people she said she had ever known. “Just thinking about what she’s gone through and me missing a 2-footer — the scale is totally different,” Kim said. She recovered and gave her team a 16-shot lead.
Dickey’s melanoma diagnosis came in 2014, said her husband of 21 years, and her first surgery came on Thanksgiving that year. The fact she was still coaching golf last spring, he said, was extraordinary.
“A doctor who saw an X-ray said, ‘Is she bedridden?’ Hardly — she was walking the golf course. She just had this ability, maybe a gift from God or sheer willpower, to rise above things in so many ways,” Dave Dickey said, “an otherworldly ability to place her mind over matter.”
In a Hall of Fame acceptance speech she helped write but which ended up being delivered by her brother, Ann Dickey credited her mother, Pat, as an early inspiration.
“She was so good at golf in a time when girls’ golf didn’t really exist, they found a spot for her — on the boys’ varsity team.” She was the first female to play on a boys’ varsity team in the state, she wrote. “So I grew up in an environment that fostered athletics, finding walls and climbing them.”
She asked people in that speech to help a new nonprofit she’d created that is named Annie’s Army/Get Girls Golfing, “built on the belief that learning and playing golf empowers girls to be confident.”
Besides her husband and brother, she is survived by daughters Katie and Elizabeth and sons Jack and Josh, all of Edina, and by her mother, Pat Forrest. Memorials are preferred to Get Girls Golfing (getgirlsgolfing.com) or the Edina Community Foundation, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina, MN 55436.