Ed Dick says the highlight of his week is serving the homeless every Saturday evening in the Salvation Army shelter.
The retired insurance executive likes it best, though, when someone guesses from his humble appearance that he’s there to be served.
During his induction as a lifetime member of the Salvation Army’s advisory board Wednesday, Dick read a quote from Jim McKee, the Army’s kitchen manager, on what it was like to meet Dick for the first time while preparing a community meal in December 2005.
“As I tried to lock the door, an elderly man, casually dressed, wearing this crumpled old hat,” Dick read, placing his Boys and Girls Club ballcap on the lectern for effect, “... approached the back door wanting in.
“I explained to him that all who wanted to have the evening meal must enter through the side door. He proceeded to advise me that he was not a homeless man but a volunteer and that he came to serve dinner, not eat dinner.”
The 80-year-old Dick, who has served the Salvation Army for more than 40 years, received his honor during a luncheon Wednesday at the Army’s Center for Worship.
He was praised as a common man with uncommon generosity.
“I quit serving Thanksgiving dinner because I’d show up unshaven, T-shirt. Women kept coming up to me, trying to get me to sit down and be served,” Dick said after the ceremony.
“I love that stuff. I love it when Jim wouldn’t let me in the door. I treasure that. ... I believe in the common man,” Dick said.
The Salvation Army’s Bradenton area commander, Maj. Robert Parker, read tributes to Dick from past commanders Maj. Tony Barrington, Maj. Jack Repass and Maj. Allen Satterlee, then added his own.
“He has the heart that you want every advisory board member, everyone who’s involved in the Salvation Army in any way, to have. He’s just got a heart for others,” Parker said.
Paul Dick, Ed Dick’s nephew, introduced him by describing him as “an absolute inspiration.”
“His generosity doesn’t know color, doesn’t know gender,” Paul Dick said. “It’s right out of Christ’s love.”
The Salvation Army advisory board has a maximum of three lifetime members. Dick, an advisory board member since 1989 and currently chairman of the board’s nominating committee, joins Dan Molter and Carol Chamberlain as lifetime members. He replaced Judge Robert E. Hensley, who died in March 2009.
Dick, a Uniontown, Pa., native, moved to Manatee County in 1958 and began his service to the Salvation Army as a holiday bell ringer. He established Ed Dick Insurance Agency in 1960, then later formed Dick, Johnson & Jefferson Inc., one of Manatee County’s largest insurance companies. He retired last month.
Dick received the Salvation Army Crystal Shield Award in 1998. He coached for 30 years at what is now the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County and is on the founding board of the Guardian Angels Children’s Home, which has raised almost $2 million to build a facility for foster children.
Dick thanked his wife of nearly 57 years, Joanne, for being his partner in service. The couple adopted eight children and have opened their home to more than 200 homeless or displaced people from around the world.
“I cannot say enough about that woman, I really can’t,” he said.
Timothy Wolfrum, Herald staff, can be reached at 745-7015.