John Harvey Dise

John Harvey Dise

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08/13/17 09:22 PM #1    

Nancy Theodoroff ((Townsend))

John was so nice. I am sorry to hear of his death.  Here is the text of his obiturary.......

JOHN H., JR. Attorney in Detroit, passed away in Colorado March 21, 2016. He was born in Detroit on May 29, 1949 to J. Harvey (deaseased) and Doretha Dise. He is survived by his wife, Joy; son, John (Skip) Dise and his family; daughter, Anna; and his sister, Deborah Anderson. John graduated from Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan State University and Detroit College Of Law and served as a police officer in Detroit and as a legal advisor to the late Coleman Young of Detroit.

08/24/17 05:10 PM #2    

David Henry Cook

I attended John Dise's Memorial Service in July of 2016 in Kirkland, WA and was asked by Joy Dise to speak. Here is what I said. 

John H. Dise, Jr. Memorial Service Tribute 

I first met John in the 7th grade. We attended Barnum Junior High together. I made friends with John Hocking first, who was also new to the area like me. John Hocking’s neighbor was John Dise. We sometimes played basketball together in Hocking’s driveway in the winter. I remember on several occasions shoveling snow and even sweeping with brooms to get the driveway as playable as possible. I recall how John Dise and I would shovel and sweep, working to turn the driveway into the best possible basketball court. John Hocking would become impatient with us because he wanted to get on with playing. Probably our work on the driveway was more memorable than our basketball.

We attended High School together at Birmingham Seaholm High School.   We had some classes together. I remember John being a good student and always being attentive in class. We played on the Junior Varsity Basketball team together. John had a good jump shot and worked hard in practice. We lifted weights together Senior year in the Spring. I tried to keep up with him when bench pressing, but it was difficult. He had become quite strong.

We both attended Michigan State University.  We lived in separate dorms the first year across campus from each other and did not see each other at all that first term. We pledged the same fraternity, Phi Delta Theta winter of Freshman year. We saw each other during Rush, but we did not know what the other was going to decide. So we were in the same pledge class Winter term. We went through Hell Week the first week of Spring Break. That’s when hazing was still happening at major colleges around the country and it was not easy surviving that week from the humiliation, the mind games, the raw eggs down our pants and the constant cold showers in our clothes. We huddled afterwards in the furnace room of the fraternity house trying to warm up and vowed to our other pledge brothers that given the chance, we would change the nature of Hell Week for future pledge classes.

Sophomore year, we both lived in the Fraternity house. We each had different roommates. We started to grow together as friends and confidants. We were both being encouraged to consider leadership positions for the following year in the fraternity by some of our older brothers. At the end of our Sophomore year, we both ran for Chapter President. John was elected President and I became Treasurer. John was gracious in victory and assured me how important I was to him to be the house Treasurer and how we would need to rely on each other and confide in each other for the big job ahead. As a result, we worked closely together and became great friends.

Our Junior year was the first year the fraternity did not have a Housemother, as our Housemother Phi Delta Theta had for many years, suddenly announced her retirement during the Fall term and a replacement we found, did not want the job after the first month. Subsequently, we held a House vote to go without a housemother and it passed. John then had to draft a policy for social decorum and then try to enforce it, knowing that without a Housemother, the brothers could get pretty casual about how they dressed and acted around the house and how they showed up for meals. Because of the respect the brothers had for John though, they complied with the policy and we did not have any big issues regarding enforcement.

Another accomplishment for John was proposing to the Chapter that the sleeping dormers we had at either end of the top floor, could be eliminated since the trend was moving in the direction of brothers sleeping in their own rooms rather than in the sleeping dormers as had been the tradition in the house. He envisioned that we could subdivide those dormers and create 4 new bedrooms that would accommodate 8 more actives in the house. The house needed more actives living in it to better balance the operating budget. It was a great example of John’s practical leadership. I recall he also led a crew of brothers framing in the new bedrooms. And yes, together we instituted new Hell Week rules governing hazing. We made it more about positive bonding experiences with your pledge brothers and a lot less about intimidation and fear. We eliminated any physical abuse. John was well respected and well liked among his peers at the Fraternity, because he showed himself to be a leader, a self starter, a person who was not afraid of responsibility or the pressure of handling school work while serving as President of Phi Delta Theta. He had a “can do” spirit that was infectious. And he always made time for anyone who needed to talk. He was the genuine article. He had a big heart that was undeniable. During social life, John enjoyed the camaraderie of the guys and had a laid back easy-going demeanor that made him fun to be around. John also had an intellectual curiosity that went way beyond engineering. He was getting interested in environmental issues I recall and attended some on campus open seminars in his free time. He was somehow always up on current events. Few had time to read a newspaper, but he must have made time. He seemed to like to debate and could argue both sides of an issue with great skill. I did not know he was going to become a lawyer at that time, but had I known I would have said he has the makings for becoming a successful one!

I remember John bought a big green truck at some point. It had 2 seats in the front and was just open in the back. It reminded you of Army Surplus, but it wasn’t an army truck. Very useful actually, he put that truck to work many a time moving items and picking things up for the fraternity house that could not be transported by a regular car. I recall John had an aluminum lawn chair placed in the middle, just behind the two front seats for a third passenger to sit. If you were the 2nd passenger in the truck, you needed to hold on tight! You could be sliding left or right depending upon which way he was turning!!

Senior year John and I and two other brothers rented a really nice 4 bedroom house in Okemos, a city just outside of East Lansing and more bucolic. The owner of the house was a Professor going on a one year sabbatical in Europe with his family. The ad read that you had to be graduate students or a professor with a family. I answered the ad, even though I was an undergraduate and went to see the house by myself and be interviewed. The interview went well and the professor was warming up to the idea of renting to 4 seniors. But he needed to meet the rest of the prospective tenants. I arranged for John to go with me the 2nd time and coached him about looking the part. John really hit it off with the professor, holding his own in discussions ranging from all sorts of topics to how John and I intended to maintain the house. The Professor then informed us we also had to take care of their dog and their cat, as well as the yard, and the house was on a good size lot. He showed us how to run his lawn mower, how to change the filter on the furnace, how to drain the water heater if necessary and how to remove the storm windows in the summer and put screens on. John put him at ease by showing aptitude for all these tasks. The interview went so well that the professor made the decision to rent the house to us that day without meeting our other 2 roommates. The professor said “two responsible guys like you two must also have responsible friends”. We enjoyed our time that year living the suburban life and holding our roommates to a higher standard than they might have wanted for themselves.

John and I developed a relationship with Jon Runquist, the President of our Phi Delta Theta Alumni Association, whom we both reported to as officers of the fraternity. John Runquist was also the owner of East Lansing Realty, a local real estate and development company. He took a real liking to us because we showed him we were responsible types, so he offered us property management part time work. Our first opportunity was leasing, fixing up and subleasing a small house in East Lansing. I have to tell you John had a seemingly fearless pursuit of these new ventures. We had the opportunity to lease this small house in East Lansing from a woman, who wanted us to fix it up for her, suitable to rent out, and then allow us to sublet it to others for more money, to recoup our investment and make some extra spending money. I was hesitant and uncertain, but John was not at all afraid to take on this task. He proved very capable and knew how, for instance, to replace the seal on a leaking toilet, to install new front door hardware, even to shim a few interior doors at the hinges to make them close properly as I recall. I learned a lot working with him on that project. I had experience painting but that was about it. We fixed the house up and were successful at renting it out to 2 young ladies who were working as nurses at a local hospital. We had to manage it and collect the rent from our subtenants and pay the underlying rent to the landlord. Back then, our Landlady wanted just $70 a month from us. We were able to rent it for $140 per month by running an ad in the local newspaper. We mowed the grass in the Spring and Summer months and answered the call when our subtenants (the girls) had problems. One particular night I remember, we received a call from them saying a bat had flown into their house and they needed us to come over and remove it. We arrived at the house and using a broom, cornered the bat into a bedroom and shut the door, so the bat was trapped, but so were we! John was able to subdue the bat with the broom and we caught it in a towel and released it outside. I was rather freaked out having to deal with this scary flying creature flitting around the room, but John was brave and undaunted by the dive bombing of the bat. He kept swatting at it until he had hit it enough times to get it to fall to the floor. It was impressive I thought, as my heart pounded nearly out of my chest.

During the second year of managing that house, John had an occasion to actually meet face to face with the owner of the house and saw how elderly the woman was and learned that she was struggling with making ends meet. He came to me and said he thought the right thing to do was to send her all of the rent we collected and not keep any for ourselves because she needed it and we had, to that point, recouped our investment. I agreed because I knew he was right, even though I did not like giving up that extra income we worked to create. But you really had to admire the way John showed compassion for her circumstances.

Our senior year we discussed our futures together. John knew he did not want to become an Electrical engineer, even though his major was Electrical Engineering, and I knew I didn’t want to go into just any kind of business job opportunity that came along, even though my major was Business Administration. I think at the time I was focusing on how I was going to prepare to make a good living in a field that was interesting to me. But John was focusing on how he could make a real difference in the work he chose to do. John Dise was a really great friend to me. I felt like our relationship brought out the best in both of us. We were a good team. I stayed at Michigan State and earned a Master’s Degree in Resource Economics from the School of Natural Resources. John moved to Detroit and became a policeman and then earned a law degree from the Detroit School of Law. I took a job in the Chicago area with a major homebuilding company and then 2 years later joined a development company in San Diego. After that I then relocated to Portland, OR, where my parents had moved to when I was in graduate school. I have been in Portland ever since. I married my wife Alexandra who has lived in Portland all her life and we raised our family there. I stayed in touch with John and Joy over the years, but mostly it was by Christmas cards. I think I saw John at 2 different high school reunions over the years, but I regret now, very much, that I did not make more of an effort to hook up more often with my good friend from our college days. John had a very positive impact on my life. I am so very grateful to have known him. I thank God for our time together. Mac MacPherson, a fraternity brother who lives in Lowell, Michigan, could not be here today but he wanted me to tell Joy that he has sent John’s obituary plus some remarks he wrote to the local chapter of Phi Delta Theta and to the National headquarters of Phi Delta Theta. He wants me to pass along his condolences to you Joy, Anna and Skipper and family.

Here are some excerpts of what Mac prepared in addition to the obituary from the Detroit Free Press dated April 3rd, 2016: “The Phi Delt House was strong and loaded with an excellent Senior Class and underclassmen. To be selected President of the Chapter in 1969 was a measure of how heady President John Dise was. We have had many excellent Chapter Presidents. In my opinion, John was second to none. We all respected John as our President and including the strong senior class, we were proud and confident of John’s leadership abilities. Probably his best friend in the house at that time was David Cook, also of Birmingham. John edged out David for President. They had an agreement that whoever was not elected President, would serve as Treasurer. Together they ran a great house. What a super gentleman John Dise became. We the Phi Delts of the late 1960’s era are saddened by John’s passing. God bless you John and your family.” Mac also wrote: “John was my big brother in the Fall of 1969”.

Mac and I had a phone conversation two weeks ago concerning John’s passing and got to reminisce about our times together with him. During our discussion Mac told me he has been learning to play the bagpipes. With that intro, he said wait a minute, I want you to hear something. He then proceeded to put down the phone, pick up his bagpipes and play Amazing Grace for me, and for John. Afterwards, Mac said a prayer for John. It was a really touching tribute. Mac is a dear person and is another great friend and brother of ours at Phi Delta Theta. So John, from Mac and from me, may you rest in peace and as my wife’s Greek relatives would say, may your memory by eternal! God Bless you Joy, Anna and Skipper and family.

08/25/17 12:52 PM #3    

Rex Gregory Lanyi

What an amazing Tribute, David! I also remember John from playing basketball together, especially on the J.V. team. After practice we would talk in the locker room, until John would suddenly stand up and announce: "Okay, let's go out there and get mobbed by the girls." Still waiting on that one.

Not everyone knows that before John became an attorney, he was a policeman on the Vice Squad, in Detroit of all places. And he looked the part!

I will really miss seeing John next month. He was one of the reasons I always came to the previous reunions. R. I. P.

08/25/17 04:44 PM #4    

Judy Elaine Tower ((Kajander))

Hey Dave, what a heart-felt, detailed tribute to John.  I remember initially meeting both of you at Barnum, later at Seahom sitting behind both of you in some class (maybe study hall).  John was such a super nice guy, smart, kind-hearted and always responsible.  I too attended Michigan State and regret never running into either of you in 4 years on that huge campus.  May John's family be at peace knowing John made this a better world.

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