Tribute dinner fulfills man’s final wishes


Jim Dickens


Staff Writer

Sunday, November 4, 2018

An upcoming special event that was the idea of a revered, successful late businessman will pay tribute to people who willingly sign up for a life of putting others first.

More than 800 emergency medical services workers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, active duty military personnel and their guests from across Nash and Edgecombe counties are invited to attend the first-time Jim Dickens First Responders Appreciation Dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Rocky Mount Event Center.

According to the Jim Dickens First Responders Appreciation Dinner Committee, there will be no speeches or agenda. A barbeque and chicken dinner plus sides will be served by Abrams Bar-B-Q & Seafood, and arrangements will be made to provide dinner plates for first responders who can’t come because of their work schedules.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Electric Image and the occasion will allow attendees a chance to win more than 50 door prizes.

The purpose of the event is to follow through on the wishes that Dickens, a Rocky Mount businessman and civic leader, had prior to his death on Aug. 18, 2017. Rusty Dickens, one of Dickens’ three children, said his father was a very caring, loving and benevolent man who was always thinking of others and how he could give back to the community.

Jim Dickens told his friends and business associates how much he appreciated the commitment and sacrifice of first responders in the Twin Counties and how they needed to be recognized in a special way. The committee was formed in the fall of last year to develop a way to salute the first responders in the area.


Kristen Brabble, a committee member, said the committee has worked on the event for more than a year.

“The late Jim Dickens had a vision to create this large event for all Twin Counties first responders because he wanted this event to be one of the first at the new Rocky Mount Event Center to show the Twin Counties citizens that it can and will be used for good purposes,” Brabble said. “This event is strictly for them to enjoy, eat, listen to music, dance, spend time with their significant others for free and meet local and state officials and Miss North Carolina (Laura Matrazzo).”

Missy Dickens Pair, one of Dickens’ daughters, said hours before her father died, he made her get Brabble on the phone so he could issue some final instructions to her about the event.

Carol Dickens Barker, Dickens’ other daughter, said it’s important to give back to first responders because they answer calls to dangerous and life-threatening incidents and medical emergencies, transport patients to medical appointments and make courtesy calls to homes to check on home-bound patients.

“Whether the call requires the arrival within minutes or is a courtesy call, these men and women do so in a timely and professional manner with amazing care and compassion every time,” Barker said. “We personally experienced this quick response, care and compassion with both mother and daddy on more than one occasion in their final years.”