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Cancer Takes Life Of Mervin Dieter

Kim Standingready, F.S.I. Reporter

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      NOVEMBER 1973      v03 n10 p08  
Mervin Deiter Mervin Dieter is dead. This great man who was noted for his understanding of the human condition and magnificent kindness died of cancer in hospital at Regina, October 31st.

In addition to his many friends, Mervin, who was 59, leaves to mourn his passing, his wife Georgina, his three sons, Keith, Robert and Hugh, and a daughter, Edna.

Born September 14, 1914 in the File Hills Colony on the Peepeekisis Reserve near Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Mr. Dieter is survived yet by his father, Fred, now of Regina, four brothers, Harold and Wilfred of File Hills, Bob and Walter of Regina, and two sisters, Eleanor Brass of Peace River and Mrs. Edna Bear of Prince Albert.

Mr. Dieter stayed and farmed at the File Hills colony until 1953, when he moved to Regina and took work as a sewing machine salesman and repairman.

During their time at the colony, Mr. Dieter and his wife were noted for the fact that they always found time to lend a helping hand, particularly to the missionaries and teachers who came there.

In Regina he took a job as a salesman because he loved people and was always fond of talking. In addition to his full time job, Mr. Dieter found time to be chairman of the Canadian Native Society when it was first formed and he was always willing to help organize whatever functions were necessary.

Mr. Dieter and his wife were also instrumental in helping many of their people who left the reserve to settle in the city because they realized what a difficult transition it could be.

He joined the staff of the "Saskatchewan Indian" in 1971 as a reporter and columnist, but even before that he was writing newspaper articles trying to give the while society a better understanding of his people.

More than anything else, Mr. Dieter is remembered by his friends for his humour and for the graciousness with which he accepted his disappointments and ill-health.

As a columnist with the newspaper, Mervin always provided the reader with caring and warm stories in which he shared his own personal experiences. He would always attempt to bring out the bright and humourous side of any situation - and his columns were a celebration of the spirit in man.

In life, as well as in his writings, Mervin was always a man willing to give of himself and share his bright outlook with other people. When I, as a reporter, first started with the newspaper, it was Mervin who took me under his wing and offered to show me the ropes. Other specific incidents have been difficult to find because Mervin was the find of man who kept his triumphs to himself. Often what he did was known only to those who benefited directly from his help.

He was a humble man, but filled with great self-respect and wherever he was he handled himself with great dignity.

Mervin was a living example of a man dedicated to his people and he once organized a group of friends and volunteered to fix and repair any Indian home.

He was also a member of a government advisory board to help welfare recipients and became involved in the revision of textbooks in order that children might get a true picture of Indian life. Through his efforts a special supplement text is now available to the schools.

His heart and home was always open to anyone in distress and many a time he took in children who had nowhere else to go. He was not afraid to take up the torch for any Indian person who was having trouble with various government agencies and his name became known and respected as a result. He loved to champion a cause and was not one to be afraid of stating his convictions, whatever the cost.

The attitude of people who knew Mervin can best be summed up by John Ursan, a consultant with the F.S.I. in Regina, who says "For me it was a real privilege to know this man, a human being who taught me a lot. My life is richer for having known him."