Rush Stuart Dickson

May 11, 2024

CHARLOTTE – Rush Stuart Dickson of Charlotte, NC passed away quietly on Saturday, May 11, 2024.  Born August 18, 1929, he was the son of Rush Smith Dickson and Lake Simpson Dickson.

Stuart attended public schools in Charlotte as well as Charlotte Country Day then Culver Military Academy where he graduated in 1947 with a JROTC commission in the United States Army.  He matriculated at Davidson College in the class of 1951.

Stuart married the late Joanne Shoemaker Dickson on October 14, 1951, and they moved to New York City where he began his career in investment banking with Goldman Sachs.  He returned to Charlotte when his Army unit was called to active duty during the Korean conflict.  Stuart and Joanne began a family which quickly grew to include four children. At that time, he went to work at RS Dickson Company where he became president in 1958.  Along with his brother Alan, he formed and took public from the investment holdings of RS Dickson Company the RUDDICK Corporation, founded in 1968 - the parent company of Harris Teeter, American & Efird Mills, Jordan Graphics, Ruddick Investment Company and Heritage Capital Corporation, among other interests.  Stuart served on the Board of Directors at Textron Inc, First Union, PCA, Pick and Pay and DIMON.  His far-flung business interests took him around the world multiple times.

Stuart lived life to the fullest and with a great sense of adventure.  He thrived on being engaged with people and touched the lives of many.  He was a man of deep and quiet faith.  The number of people whom he helped and supported is inestimable.

Stuart was an enthusiastic outdoorsman who had a love for both the mountains and the ocean.  He loved duck hunting, quail hunting, snow skiing, boating and bonefishing on the saltwater flats in the Abacos.

An avid golfer; he played on his Davidson College golf team and was a member of Charlotte Country Club, Quail Hollow Club, Linville Golf Club, Augusta National, Country Club of North Carolina, Wacchesaw Plantation Club, Grandfather Golf & Country Club, Bald Head Island Club and DeBordieu Club.

His community activities included United Community Services Fund, The Piedmont Club of Charlotte, The Newcomen Society and the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry.

According to Stuart, his most rewarding accomplishment was the forty years of service as Commissioner, including twenty-five years as Chairman, of Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (Carolinas Healthcare System - now Atrium Health).  Under Stuart’s leadership, the former Charlotte Memorial Hospital merged with Mercy Hospital, leading to the foundation for a multi-facility, state and regional growth strategy that continues today.  With the additions of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Advocate Aurora Health it is the fifth largest health system in the US.

He served as Chairman of The Dickson Foundation, Trustee of Davidson College, UNCC, Wake Forest University and Johnson C. Smith University.  In addition, he was elected to the NC Business Hall of Fame.  Stuart was a lifelong member of, as well as a Life Deacon at Myers Park Baptist Church.

Stuart is survived by his wife, Kathy; his children, Rush S. Dickson III and his wife, Kristin, Thomas Walter Dickson, John Alexander Dickson and his wife, Nancy and Laura Lake Watkins and her husband, Carlton; his eight grandchildren, Sarah Dickson Bourgeois (John), Rebecca Dickson Callis (David), William Thomas Dickson (Christina), Michael Alan Dickson (Mary Stuart), Rush Alexander (Jamie Lee), Ashlyn Sherwood Dickson, Carlton Gunter Watkins III, John Walter Watkins (Sarah) and twelve great-grandchildren.  Also surviving is his sister, Jane Williamson.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Joanne; brother, Alan Dickson; sister, Barbara Scott and his daughter-in-law, Cecelia.

The family wishes to extend a special thanks to each and all of the caring staff at Carolinas CARE Acute Care Hospital and the Levine Dickson Hospice House at Southminster.

A memorial service will be held 2:00 PM on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC.  The family will receive friends following the service in Heaton Hall.  The service will be livestreamed at: for those unable to attend in person.  Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered in memory of Stuart to the charity of your choice.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences may be shared at

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  • John Eapen

    Rush, Tad & John,
    I am very saddened to hear about Stuart passing away. My condolences to all of you and your families. Stuart was a great Chairman of Ruddick, A&E and HT. His experience and leadership helped our companies a great deal. We will miss him. May his memory be a blessing.
    I am sorry I could not attend the memorial service because my wife and I moved to California ( Palos Verdes, a suburb of LA) two weeks ago to be near our son and family. I did attend the on-line service.
    John Eapen

  • Richard and Margaret Salisbury

    I enjoyed knowing Mr. Dickson and spending time with all his son's.