Peter Alastair Dickson


The world has lost a great storyteller and wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend to many. Peter Alastair Dickson was born in Grootfontein, Namibia, on Aug 23, 1949, to Alastair and Eileen Dickson, where his father was a mining engineer. Peter died on May 24 after a long battle with esophageal cancer. He lived in Namibia until the age of 5 and the family then moved to Turkey. He returned to the U.K for schooling. Peter received his BSc degree in geology in 1971 at Leeds University, where he met his future wife, Louise (Lou) Ellen Dickson (née Van Vleck). They married Aug 12, 1972, in Topeka Kan., but lived in Manchester, England, while they both completed their master’s degrees. They moved to Pittsburgh in January 1975 so that Pete could complete his Ph.D. in geology (1977) and conduct postdoctorate research and teaching. 

In March 1978, Peter joined Harza Engineering Company, an employee-owned consulting company based in Chicago that specialized in water resource engineering and serving around the world. He spent the next 40 plus years working on projects mainly in many remote, mountainous regions,\ where water scarcity and value is of extreme significance. Taking after his linguist brother, Peter’s aptitude with languages and ability to socialize in different world cultures contributed to his success in his overseas work.

Lou and Peter have two children, Alison (proud mother of grandson, Alastair) and Hamish (married to Jenn Han, of Los Angeles). At various times, Lou and the family would join him for a remote adventure. Throughout his life, mountain life and scenery remained important and for this reason, Lou and Pete decided to buy a house in Pagosa Springs, Colo., 22 years ago, and have actively participated in Pagosa life whenever they could. He was particularly proud of his membership in the Grey Wolves and skied at Wolf Creek or met up with them for their social gatherings whenever he had a chance.

Outside his professional life, Peter was an enthusiastic outdoorsman, artist, writer, skier, potter and devoted family man. His life revolved around the family and their interests and the community. He served as chief referee from the beginning of AYSO in Evanston and coached Hamish’s Team Evanston. He was also well-known for his cooking, BBQ and charcuterie, especially his bacon. Because of his life and travels around the world, he could always bring to an evening’s gathering an extra flair and taste in the menu. 

Pete is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lou Dickson; their daughter, Alison; their son, Hamish, and his wife, Jenn Han; their grandson, Alastair; his brother, Christopher (Sonia); sister-in-law Faye Sprately (Bill); and nieces and nephews Marijke, Madeleine, Femke, Douglas, Alessandro, Bill and Bob; and grandnieces/grandnephews Lauren, Amy, Jade-Lynn, Taylor, Fellen, Skye and Neal. He will be sorely missed. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Those of you who wish can send a remembrance in his name can send it to: Planet Water Foundation,; Water Aid,;; or a charity of your choice.