Cancer took Dale Dickmeyer's life two years ago, but it didn't take his heart. He never complained and it never mattered how bad he felt or how much pain he was in.

Growing up, Dale played basketball for Franklin High School (Minnesota) and then went on to play at Willmar Community College and at the University of Sioux Falls.  He also played college football, but hoops were his best sport.  He was known as the 'big guy' inside and for being immovable on defense.  He was a good athlete, but it did not come naturally. He had to work very hard on the court to use the gifts that God gave him to play college basketball.  After his playing days were over, he went on to coach his three kids (two sons, Brian, Matthew, and daughter, Jorden) on the hardwood.

"He always said to put a smile on even if you had a bad game. (laughs), and that you only have five fouls and can't take them home, so use them up," shares Jorden.

"I can't explain his love for basketball. He would 'light up'," adds Brian.

While basketball was Dale's true love, his biggest attribute was his lasting impression he made on everybody he surrounded himself with.

"We were married for 30 years. He was my soulmate, and an amazing person that was one of a kind.  The most selfless person I've ever met," shares his wife, Evon.

Dickmeyer even left a memorable mark while working at Wells Fargo.  He solved problems, always had a smile, knew everybody, and took things personally when his co-workers were going through times. He truly cared about the people in his life.

Life isn't good all the time, though.  Trials are a part of everybody's life.  In 2009, Dale hit a roadblock head on, as his battle with colon cancer began. Dickmeyer had his good and bad days like any cancer patient.  Yet, he managed to always have a smile.

"When the phone rang when he was sick and couldn't talk, he started dancing," laughs Jorden.

Dale had surgery to remove 18 inches of his colon, but while he was in surgery, the doctor was concerned with spots on his liver.  Unfortunately, the doctor was unable to do a biopsy on his liver because he could not reach the spots.  The diagnosis for Dale was stage four colon cancer along with 'cancerous' spots on his liver. Chemotherapy began, and he felt on and off for several months while going through many surgeries. Along the way, the Dickmeyer family would work with Sanford and the Mayo Hospital to give Dale the best treatment. Two-thirds of his liver was removed in surgery at Mayo in August 2011, and he started to feel better.  There was  no sign of cancer for three months. Then, the cancer re-appeared in his liver in January 2012.  Five months later, Evon took him to the emergency room on June 26th when he became fatigued.  His oncologist told him he had four more days to live, as his liver was shutting down.  On June 30, he passed away at age 49.

The pain he suffered was never bigger than his joy for life and people.  His funeral was a true celebration of his life.  Dale always sought positivity and not negativity.

"The most amazing thing was his faith as he was not afraid of dying.  He knew about six to eight months before he passed that there was not much else they could do and eventually his liver would shut down because it could no longer filter the toxins.  He of course never shared this with me or the kids and lived every day to the fullest," tells Evon.

One selfless act he showed in his last months was secretly planning his own funeral because he didn't want to burden Evon with it.

As a way to give back to Dale, Evon and her children, along with Wells Fargo, started a memorial basketball tournament in his honor.  Last year was the first year in the event. Over $2,000 was donated last year to the Dale Dickmeyer Basketball Fund giving away jerseys, shoes, gym time, and tournament time to those that do not have resources to play hoops.

"We want everybody no matter what culture to have the opportunity to play basketball," says Evon.

Jorden loves the tournament because she gets to play the game her dad taught her as effort to give back.

"As kids we played the most, and we do it for our dad."

If you're looking to play in the tournament, don't worry if you're not a basketball player.

"You don't have to play basketball. We had a lot of fun (last year).  We joke around, and want kids to enjoy themselves and learn about the game of basketball.  It's not about winning or losing, it's all about having fun!," explains Brian.

"Not everybody is a basketball player.  I played with a wrestler and hockey player last year," adds Jorden.

On Saturday, June 7th, the tournament tips-off. There are four age divisions for boys and girls in grades 5 through 12, a men and women's division age 19 and up, and co-ed division for teams 19 and up. The cost is $80 dollars with four players allowed on each team. A shirt will also be given to each team member. To get registered, email or go to the Harrisburg Days website at

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Photo via Evon Dickmeyer