Remembering the Life of Former Dean of Graduate Studies, Michael Dingerson

*Editor’s Note: This obituary is from Michael Dingerson’s Dignity Memorial page.

Michael Robert Dingerson (1943-2018)

Michael Robert Dingerson, 75, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend passed away on July 30, 2018. He was born in Decatur, Illinois to the late Harold and Katherine Dingerson. He was predeceased by a brother, David Dingerson. Left to cherish his memory is his loving wife of 48 years, Gail Dingerson; 3 daughters, Kristine Simms (Noel), Melissa Boerner (Brad), Lynne Betzhold (Eric); 8 grandchildren, Christian, Hadley, and Katherine Simms, Quinn and Tyndale Boerner, Gage, Maylen and Juliet Betzhold; and a brother, Steve Sullivan (Becky).

Mike’s family was a constant source of great joy and pride. He and Gail met and fell in love while at Southern Illinois University and shared adventures, laughs and travel while raising their three daughters. Together, they built a loving home for their family in three states and developed life-long friendships that they continue to cherish today. Kristy, Melissa and Lindy’s families always made Mike smile and provided him with warm thoughts and memories. He delighted in knowing that each was on a positive path in their own particular stage of life, and was always available to provide wise counsel. He cherished time together, and loved sharing thoughts, ideas, dreams, New York Times articles, licorice, popcorn and ice cream with them.

Mike served in various administrative leadership positions at Southern Illinois University, the University of Mississippi and Old Dominion University. Beginning with an internship in the research office at SIU, he advanced to Graduate Dean and Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at these institutions. He particularly enjoyed working with PhD level graduate students in Higher Education and Academic Affairs. Mike was a member and leader in many national professional organizations, but his true passion lay in building statewide research capabilities in both Mississippi and Virginia. Upon realizing that no single Mississippi institution could be competitive for research grants on its own, Mike initiated the development of the Mississippi Research Consortium, which provided a venue for the state’s universities to collaborate to win tens of millions of highly competitive research dollars. Over thirty years later, the Mississippi Research Consortium continues to thrive and benefit Mississippi.

“I worked with a lot of faculty members and administrators for over 40 years, and Mike was one of the most knowledgeable and gifted, former UM Provost Emeritus Gerald Walton said on Dingerson’s Dignity Memorial page. “I relied on him greatly when making decisions and could always rely on his judgement. He made the University of Mississippi a better place.”

Golf was a passion and life constant from childhood through retirement, having played over a hundred courses, from his hometown course of Pekin Country Club to Riverfront Golf Course in Suffolk, Virginia. Golf was often a focus of Gail and Mike’s travel during retirement. They traveled many times to Scotland to attend The Open. He volunteered at PGA tournaments as a walking scorer at courses across the country, and never failed to send a detailed, insider’s play-by-play of the day’s events to his family and golf buddies. He cherished his friends, old and new, who came into his life through a shared passion for golf.

He was an avid St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan, closely following each trade and statistic, even going so far as to watch a live stream from wherever his travels took him. He instilled this love in his three children and seven grandchildren, who make annual trips to St. Louis to enjoy the games with Mike’s brother Steve and his family.

Mike’s love of reading and lifelong learning was second nature. Always surrounded by a stack of books and newspapers, his grandchildren would often joke that if you wanted to find Gee, he would be somewhere drinking coffee and reading a book. He had a true thirst for knowledge, particularly of history, sociology and economics. At family get-togethers, he often engaged the family in spirited roundtable discussions of current events. On vacations, no bookstores were left unvisited. He will be greatly missed by all who loved him and will live in our hearts forever. The family would like to express appreciation to the caring physicians and clinical staff at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.


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