Dickey, born Oct. 26, 1926 in Rigdon, Ind., was a diminutive, 5-9 guard when he first entered the Navy near the end of World War II, hardly the material of a college basketball even then. But during his two years military service, Dickey grew by five inches and added 35 pounds to his lanky frame.
He caught the eye of a lieutenant commander - and Navy basketball coach - named Everett Case as a member of a California-based Navy team. So when Dickey finished his military commitment, Case approached him about joining his new program in Raleigh.
Dickey had intended to go to Purdue, but was offered no scholarship money. So he signed on with Case instead, becoming part of the famed 10-player, all-Indiana recruiting class called the "Hoosier Hotshots," which included Vic Bubas and Norman Sloan.
"When I first got to Raleigh, there wasn't that much activity," Dickey said in a 2002 interview. "It was just after the war and people didn't care about basketball that much. Plus, we were all new.
"Nobody recognized anyone."
That would soon change for the red-headed forward for the Red Terrors.
As a member of four consecutive Southern Conference-champion teams and a three-time All-America, Dickey had one of the most decorated careers in NC State basketball history, thanks in part to his famous one-handed jumpshot.
He was part of the 1947 team that introduced cutting down the nets - an Indiana high school tradition - to college basketball, following its Southern Conference Tournament Championship. He was also a member of the 1950 team that was the first to play in Reynolds Coliseum and became the first NC State team to advance to the Final Four, losing to Baylor in the semifinals in New York City.
Dickey, with his flashy style, won All-Southern Conference honors in each of his four years in Raleigh, becoming the only player in NC State history to earn all-conference honors in four consecutive seasons. He was also the Most Valuable Player in the 1949 Dixie Classic and the winner of the Alumni Athletic Trophy.
In the spring of 1950, Dickey became the first NC State player ever drafted into the National Basketball Association, going to the Baltimore Bullets in the third round.
Dickey, a lifelong fan and supporter of his alma mater, had a far-reaching impact on the program, long after his playing days were over and long after he received his degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences in 1950. He remained close with Sloan, his former roommate, throughout Sloan's coaching career and often scouted players for him in and around Indiana.
When Sloan sent Dickey out to scout high school hotshot named Steve Ahlfeld, Dickey came back raving about a different player, one that he thought would be the point guard the Wolfpack needed to go with Tommy Burleson and David Thompson. Even though he was short, this player from Oak Hill High School in Dickey's adopted hometown of Marion had a certain flair and demeanor that Dickey believed would more than make up for his 5-foot-5 stature.
Dickey was so sure that Monte Towe would fit in at NC State, he drove him to Raleigh for his recruiting visit. He eventually convinced Sloan to take Towe, and the gritty guard was an integral part of the Wolfpack's 58-1 record from 1972-74, back-to-back ACC Championships and the school's first NCAA title in 1974.
"I am not sure there is anybody in the world who loved NC State more than Richard," said Towe, now a member of Sidney Lowe's coaching staff at NC State.
Dickey, inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, is survived by his wife, the former Jean L. Stewart, and seven children: Linda Hutchinson, Kristine Myers, Francine Cook, Shannon Austin, Richard L. Dickey Jr., Matthew Dickey and Patrick Dickey.
Visitation will be Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the Needham-Storey-Wampner Funeral Service in Marion, Ind. Funeral services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday at the funeral home, with burial to follow at the Gardens of Memory in Huntington, Ind.
The family has asked that memorials be made in Dickey's memory to the Indianapolis chapter of the American Lung Association, at 9445 Delegates Row, Indianapolis, Ind., 46240-3805. Online condolences can be sent at www.nswcares.com.