HJ/EDApril 10, 2006

Remembering Wally Dibb

By Lynda Jensen

In a modern age that is known for its short commitments and brief attention spans, Wally Dibb of Lester Prairie, 76, did everything with a sense of permanence.

He was married to his wife Shirley for more than 55 years. When he began working at Schwartz Manufacturing at the age of 15, he continued to be employed there for another 45 years.

And Dibb also served 54 years on the Lester Prairie Fire Department, serving as assistant chief, president of the Regional Fireman Association, and as the fire prevention instructor.

“He’s taught more kids to stop, drop and roll than probably anyone else in the state,” commented Lester Prairie Fire Chief Jim Hoof, making a reference to the decades that Dibb spent at Lester Prairie School, teaching fire prevention.

Dibb was always there for fire calls, he said. “He responded to about everything. . . . He was a good man,” Hoof said.

It was this steady service and good nature that were celebrated at his funeral April 1.

The fire department displayed a strong show of its appreciation to Dibb during his funeral services.

Three fire trucks were used in the funeral procession, with one of them being a Winsted truck, Hoof said.

“What a beautiful tribute,” Shirley said Tuesday. “I was so amazed.”

Dibb has had some interesting times on the department, including the time in 2001 when he responded to two multi-car accidents that took place less than an hour of each other on Highway 7, and where he almost ended up as a casualty himself.

During the second accident, a runaway semi truck overtook and dragged Dibb for several feet, as it swerved to avoid the first accident scene.

“He heard someone say ‘Everybody, run for your lives,’” Shirley said of the accident, at the time.

Dibb started to run, but felt a soft touch at the back of his leg. He became airborne and landed in a snow bank, with the truck ending up on top of him.

His longtime friend and employer Jerry Pawelk pulled him out of the snow, where he was covered from head to foot in grease and oil.

He was OK except for a sore ankle, to the amazement of others at the scene.

The same truck that almost killed Dibb just got done demolishing a state patrol vehicle parked at the side of road as well. The trooper inside the car was taken to the hospital, treated and released.

Missing his good nature

But that’s not all that will be missed by his friends and family.

His jokes and good nature will be missed perhaps most of all, along with his community involvement.

“He was a pretty good kidder,” Hoof said. “But, he could be serious when he had to be.”

Dibb helped organize the first Cub Scout group in Lester Prairie, donated a lifetime total of 139 pints of blood to the Red Cross, was a member of the Jaycees, and was an active member at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

At St. Paul’s, Dibb served on the church council and many other committees, including the building committee and the centennial committee.

Together with his wife, Shirley, he served as a counselor of the St. Paul Active Christian Teens for 11 years.

Dibb played on the Lester Prairie baseball town team that won the class B championship in 1950.

After Dibb retired, he worked for Jerry and Fred Pawelk at North Central Ambulance, transporting ambulances countrywide.

He loved to go fishing and hunting with his brothers and friends, but especially enjoyed taking time to go out hunting with his sons.

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