Gary Dean Dirksen, 73

Gary Dean Dirksen, age 73 of Pella, passed away on April 27, 2021 at Pella Regional Hospital.

Gary was born on September 5, 1947 in Hampton, IA to Jelto and Margaret Pals Dirksen. He attended elementary and junior high school in Alexander and graduated from CAL Community High School of Latimer in 1965. He attended Central College in Pella, IA and after graduating in 1969 accepted a position as an Admissions Representative for the college. He was employed in that office for ten years then left that office as Associate Director and accepted the position of Director of Student Financial Assistance at the college. He held that position for fifteen years during which time he was actively involved in the Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (IASFAA). For several years he was a member of the State of Iowa Advisory Board, on the Board of IASFAA and chaired several committees for the association. In addition, he was a presenter at several State and Midwest conventions. He was the recipient of the IASFAA Distinguished Service Award and was honored to be recognized as a lifetime member of the association.

Following his tenure as Student Financial Assistance Director, he was asked by the college to establish a new office on campus and assume the role as Coordinator of Institutional Research. He held that position for three years until his departure from Central College at the age of fifty.

Following his departure from Central College, he founded a private research company which he operated for four years until he decided that retirement and traveling was much more fun than working. A few of his clients were the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, the Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation, and several community and private colleges around the Midwest.

Gary was very civic minded and believed very strongly in community service. To that end, he was a Central Club Board member for 15 years serving as President for nine of those years, was a member of the Pella Community Foundation’s “Leave a Legacy” project, was a founding board member of Pella Dollars for Scholars serving twice on the board, established and endowed the Dollars for Scholars Gary Dirksen Service Award. He also established and endowed through the college a Men’s and Women’s Varsity Basketball Achievement Award honoring a student athlete who not only excelled on the basketball court , but also in the classroom and who was involved in projects throughout the campus and community. In addition, he also endowed through the college the Gary Dirksen Community Service Scholarship which recognizes a student who was actively involved in local community service projects during their high school years as well as remaining active in college and community service projects.

He was a member of the President’s Associates Committee/President’s Breakfast Club, was the recipient of the Presidential Service Award and served as a member of the Campaign Cabinet/Project Steering Committee for the Campaign for Central Phase II which dealt with the track/field/stadium replacement project.

Gary was a member of the Board of Directors of the Pella Community Foundation, was appointed to be the Pella Community Foundation liaison to the Pella Dollars for Scholars program, was a charter member of the Pella Regional Health Center Foundation’s Legacy Society, was a board member and served as treasurer his last year on the Pella Hospital Foundation and was a charter member of the Central Red Society.

He was a founding member of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and a founding member of the Foundation’s 1854 Society. In addition, he was a volunteer at the Iowa State Fair for many years.

For many years, Gary volunteered during Tulip Time as a motorcoach and Central Park Welcome Windmill greeter and also at the Men’s Basketball brat stand.

He was preceded in death by his Mother and Father and his oldest brother, Donovan and his spouse, Jeanette. He is survived by one sister, Alberta (Loren) Kalkwarf of Garner, IA, and one brother.

Ronald (Dorothy) of North Canton, OH. He is also survived by four nephews and five nieces as well as many great nephews and nieces and great-great nephews and nieces.

A memorial service will be held on June 19 in the Central College Chapel with a gathering of family and friends to follow in the Central College Graham Center.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Pella Community Foundation, P.O. Box 112, Pella, IA 50219.

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