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Delavan dairyman recalled for talents, good nature

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
— A dairy farmer and a madrigal singer.

A speaker who had a knack for listening.

A life-long learner and educator who never earned a college degree.

Art Dibble was all of those things and many more. But he wasn't the kind of guy who pondered the contradictions—or even bothered to notice them.

Dibble, 66, died Saturday. He left behind his wife, Jean, his extended family, and a network of friends who remember him most for his geniality.

"Art was the kind of person who truly enjoyed people and people truly enjoyed him," said the Rev. Laura McLeod, pastor of United Church of Christ in Delavan. "You know, when you ask somebody how their business trip went, and they'll say, 'Oh, it was OK.' When you asked Art, he'd say, 'It was great. I met this really interesting person.' He always had some story to tell."

Dibble was a dairy farmer for many years and had a substantial herd of registered Holsteins. He served as president of the Walworth County Holstein Association, was a 4-H dairy leader for 15 years, coached the dairy judging team and was awarded the outstanding 4-H Alumni Award for his work.

After selling his herd, he worked at what was then known as Lake Lawn Lodge in Delavan. For the past 15 years, he worked for Blain's Farm and Fleet in Janesville, eventually moving up to become a recruiting specialist.

Dibble also served as treasurer for the Walworth County Republican Party, was a Toastmaster and was recently elected moderator at his church.

Mary Kaye Merwin's earliest memory of Art was showing cattle at the Walworth County Fair on a roasting September day.

"We were at the wash racks together, washing our animals and his hose 'slipped' and I got wet," Merwin said. "He said, in his jovial way, 'Oh, did I do that? I didn't mean to.'"

Along with starting the occasional water fight, Dibble was willing to share his knowledge of the show ring with competitors.

"He was just a Pied Piper with the younger people," Merwin said. "He'd show them how to hold their animals, give them hints."

During the state fair, Dibble took a leadership role.

"We had to meet his standards for the perfect Walworth County display," Merwin said. "He would go around with a broom and a pitchfork if he had to. He was a leader, but no job was too menial for him."

Dibble enjoyed singing, and was a member of the Southern Lakes Masterpiece Chorale and sang in his church choir.

When his church held Madrigal dinners, Dibble sang and took on the role of jester.

"He truly loved music, it was just a part of his life," Merwin said. "It might sound like an anomaly for somebody who was milking cows, but he was a multi-talented fellow."

Last updated: 7:15 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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