Alan T. Dickson

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Industry: Textiles

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early life

Alan T. Dickson is one of the “founding fathers” of modern day Charlotte, North Carolina. Born on April 3, 1931, in Charlotte, he was a man who left an indelible mark on our community, state and nation. He grew up in the city and graduated from N.C. State University, majoring in textiles. He received his MBA from Harvard University in 1955. 

After two years of army service, Dickson returned to North Carolina in 1957 and joined the textile firm American & Efird, as Director of Quality Control. He held a number of positions, and eventually rose to the role of President just ten years after he first joined the company.


In 1968, Dickson joined his brother Stuart to take the diversified holdings of the R.S. Dickson Company to create the Ruddick Corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange. R.S. Dickson & Company was created by their father, Rush Dickson, from his investment holdings in 1919.

Under the new corporation name Ruddick, Alan served as President until 1994 (he later became Chairman). The company quickly acquired the Harris Teeter chain of stores in 1969. But grocery stores and textiles weren’t the company’s only holdings. The Ruddick Corporation also has business components in investment banking, business forms, golf carts, and computers.

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free enterprise hero

Dickson was a highly-regarded business and community leader who served on the boards of numerous corporations, schools and foundation. He was a trustee of The Morehead Foundation for 42 years and served as Chairman for 21 of those years. His numerous awards include the Watauga Medal from N.C. State University, the Spirit Award from the Mint Museum of Art, and the William Richardson Davie Award from The University of North Carolina. Active in the Charlotte community, Dickson served on the boards of organizations such as the Foundation for the Carolinas, Bank of America, Bassett Furniture, the Arts & Science Council, the Mint Museum of Art, and Presbyterian Hospital. He was also a trustee at Charlotte Latin School and Central Piedmont Community College. 

He was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2002. Dickson retired from the Ruddick Corporation in 2010, and passed away in May 2012 after a battle with lung cancer. Alan left behind his wife Mary Anne of 20 years, two stepchildren, four grandchildren, and his longtime business partner and brother Stuart, and Stuart’s family.