Engineer teaches kids to play chess

Spotsylvania County man is father to young children through the decades, and he stays involved with their activities
Date published: 12/27/2007


When Brian Dickerson became a father in his mid-20s, he teased friends who planned to wait later in life to be dads.

He told them he’d be carefree in his 40s, and they’d still be stuck with youngsters.

The man with the head full of silver hair just turned 50, but he’s still spending every spare moment with kids.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said the Spotsylvania County man. “More children were made available to us.”

He and his wife, Karen, thought they had the perfect plan for their lives.

After their two sons were born, the parents wanted to adopt a daughter. When the cost and time involved overwhelmed them, they became foster parents.

They asked for a girl, between ages 4 and 10.

They got a 12-year-old.

As time passed, they continued to accept children, especially siblings, until eight were in their care.

The two youngest are still in elementary school. Two are over 18, but they live with the Dickersons because they have nowhere else to go.

Their first foster child–whose parents are both dead–has given birth to a granddaughter they adore. Daylah is 17 months old and stays with the Dickersons four days a week.

“We’re fortunate this house has a lot of rooms,” Brian said of their five-bedroom home.

He’s a program manager at Dahlgren, and he spends almost every night with one volunteer activity or another.

He keeps busier now than when biological sons Kyle, 24, and Sean, 22, were young.

“It does sound like a lot, but I’m used to it,” he said.

Brian is going on his 17th year in Scouting. He’ll stay involved until 10-year-old Liam works his way through the ranks.

Brian enjoys Scouting because it gives kids an option besides sports. His biggest passion, though, is chess.

He runs a league that draws players from Northern Virginia to Spotsylvania. He regularly has in his car a Rubbermaid bin with 80 paper boards and as many bags of plastic pieces.

Brian also runs a chess club through Spotsylvania Regional Christian Homeschoolers. Karen belongs to the group because she teaches two children at home.

The chess club meets twice a month at Ukrop’s, and Brian patiently explains the value of pawns, knights and bishops to kids as young as 6. He talks about strategies and attacks, but rarely gets the chance to make a move himself.

He’s too busy teaching others–that’s the only downside of running a program.

Parents appreciate Brian’s efforts.

“Everyone is so busy these days–and he can claim that as well as the next person–but he’s very faithful,” said Christine Ramirez of Spotsylvania. “It takes someone special to teach children something as methodical as chess.”

Norma O’Donnell drives from North Stafford. She’s glad to give her children the experience, as are Terri and Mike Davies of Spotsylvania.

“From what I’ve heard, people think he’s fabulous,” said Terri Davies.


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