Community celebrates life of local icon 'Grandma Dickey'

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- After the passing of a Grand Junction icon and a matriarch of Handy Chapel, the community of Grand Junction honored the life of Josephine Elizabeth Taylor Dickey on Saturday morning.

Mrs. Dickey touched a lot of lives in the Grand Junction community where was a huge symbol in shaping and influencing the history and culture of the western slope.

Dickey was removed from school at the age of 13 years old to raise her four younger sisters after the death of mother brother and sister within 11 months of each other, her family said.

But this tragedy only made Dickey stronger, becoming a prominent pillar in the community.

Many say she was a self-taught, self-educated African American woman.

"She leaves a huge legacy it's about compassion and giving and kindness and humor," said Helen Wirth, Josephine’s daughter.

"She is going to leave a legacy in this town I didn't realize the impact she has on this town, she was important to me but I didn't realized the impact she had on so many people,” said Vernon Dickey Jr. Josephine’s Grandson.

Dickey was the renowned founder of the handy chapel, a place of sanctuary for African Americans who needed a place for refuge. She had fought to keep the church open to all who needed a place of worship.

"She loved that church that was her home away from home,” said Dynell Butler a teenage friend of Josephine.

Family members said Grandma Dickey’s request was that her family says close-knit.

Her memory is the glue that holds together 5 children, 10 grand-children and 32 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren. So her legacy will truly live on.

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