A celebration of life for longtime Fairbanksan Richard “Dick” Scott will take place in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday but many friends from the Far North who can’t attend in person will be there in spirit that day.
They will pause to remember a remarkable man who made Fairbanks his home and spent his life dedicated to both his family and to the local community.
Dick suffered a massive stroke on Feb. 4 at his home in Tucson. He died five days later, surrounded by family — wife, Jo Scott, and his children, Julie, Bryan and Shirley. He was 92 years old and just shy of their 66th wedding anniversary.
He will be honored at the Feb. 23 winter concert of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Gospel Choir that will take place at 5 p.m. at Journey Christian Church, 1201 Hoselton Road. Jo founded the festival in 1980 and Dick was always her strongest supporter.
Jo wants friends to know that she will be in Fairbanks for the festival’s Winter Edition. She plans to attend the Soulful Sounds of Motown event at Raven Landing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 and the Marimba concert at Raven Landing at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22. Of course, she will be in the audience for the 5 p.m. Gospel Choir concert on Feb. 23 at Journey Christian Church. Photos highlighting Dick’s life will be on display in the lobby.
Julie Scott shared details of her father’s life. He came to Alaska in 1948, intending to work for the U.S. Geological Survey for one summer, mapping the territory. He was born in New York City and raised by a single mother in Laguna Beach, California. But at age 21, he realized that he wasn’t going to find his fortune there. Like so many others, his “one summer” grew into many decades in Alaska.
Fairbanks housing was tight in the 1940s. Always enterprising, Dick took a job as the caretaker for the First Presbyterian Church. In return, he was allowed to live in the attic of the original little church next door, which is now in Pioneer Park.
In 1954, the choir director there introduced him to a new teacher in town, Jo Ryman. They fell in love, married, and had three children: Julie, Bryan and Shirley.
In 1957, Dick began his 55-year career as a life insurance agent and financial advisor. He wasn’t likely to mention it, but he received national recognition for his work. He organized continuing education courses for Fairbanks advisors. He was also a trustee at his church and was active in Kiwanis and later Rotary.
His passions were his family and home. Dick began with a small log cabin which had been located in North Pole. While he was moving it onto the foundation of their College Road property in 1954, Jo was baking bread inside. Building the family home was his avocation for 60 years. His office was in the home, and he was always happy to drop his work and help his children find anything from nails for a tree fort to scissors for a project.
Dick was fascinated with technology and was one of the earliest owners of a programmable calculator, programmable typewriter and computer. He always had time to share a story or a joke. His interest in arts and culture led him to support Jo in starting the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in 1980. Dick quietly gave the festival countless dollars and hours of labor. When Jo received her many accolades, Dick stood proudly by her.
When Dick and Jo retired, they moved to an apartment near Carnegie Hall in midtown Manhattan. They had a busy social calendar of concerts, theater and travel for five years. After Dick celebrated his 90th birthday in 2017, they moved to Tucson. There, they enjoyed a relaxed life in a warmer climate at Fellowship Square, a retirement community for active seniors.
When Julie sent this information, she said her dad would call it “pushing the ink through the wires.”