Orphaned as an infant, Dale Bishop became the longtime custodian on lunchroom duty at Bloomington Jefferson High School with an eye for the students who needed lunch money or a kind word.
Known for his wit and kindness, Bishop also was for years the announcer for Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy high school hockey games. He died Oct. 24 at 85 from cancer with his family at his side.
At a memorial service Nov. 10, John Bianchi, a former assistant hockey coach and principal at Jefferson, recalled some of Bishop's hijinks from the announcer's booth. He noted the time Bishop said, "Attention please. There is a car with its lights on and motor running. It's a Cadillac. Would somebody from Edina go out and turn the car off?"
Bianchi said the entire bench of Jaguars players and coaches erupted in laughter, as it did with Bishop's announcement after a Jefferson senior scored his first goal late in the season. Bianchi said Bishop noted the fan excitement and said, "It's really not that big of a deal. He scored a goal last season, too."
Bishop had a rough start in life; he was raised by nuns at the Minneapolis Boys' Home. While other children had family visit them, he never did. Still, he was selected as one of only two boys to go to high school, and he graduated from DeLaSalle High School in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he was a Morse code operator for Company B, 1715th Signal Service Battalion.
His daughter, Anne Bishop of Edina, said her father would often joke about his war injury -- an ankle sprained during a volleyball game while he was stationed in the South Pacific. "I would say, 'why don't we ever go camping?' He would say, 'I camped at Iwo Jima, that was enough,'" his daughter recalled.
Bishop, who lived in Bloomington, worked in the schools for 40 years, starting in 1962. In addition to his wit, family members say he sang in a beautiful baritone and loved to read nonfiction.
Bishop was married to Ordell Kraft Bishop for 50 years and cared for her as she endured Alzheimer's and died in 2002. Anne Bishop said her father couldn't bear to part with his wife's ashes, so her parents were interred together recently. Anne Bishop said that, shortly before his death, her father said, "'I can't imagine not being married and not having children,' because he finally had a family."
Dale and Ordell Bishop saw much of the world together through trips to Europe, South America and throughout the United States.
After he retired as a custodian in 1986, he stayed on for lunchroom duty at Jefferson.
Retired social studies teacher Tom Howden said Bishop developed a good rapport with students by talking and joking with them. He could also coax them to clean up after themselves. "He developed the ability to give direction gently but forcefully," Howden said.
Bianchi called Bishop "one of the most splendid human beings."
"He was so positive, he reinforced the spirit that all of us would like to see in humanity -- that we're equals," Bianchi said. "It was an honor, a privilege to know him, to work with him, to laugh with him -- and at him."
In addition to his daughter, Bishop is survived by his son, Steven, and four grandchildren.