Carl Dickman, a former Fairfield selectman and state legislator, whose career in public service spanned four decades and is remembered as a friendly and persuasive advocate for the town, died Sunday. He was 84.

The Republican held a range of elected and appointed posts in town government, most notably as the running mate for Jacquelyn Durrell, when she was elected first selectman in 1983 until she stepped down 1993. He then was elected to the state General Assembly in 1994 from the 132nd District in Fairfield, serving 10 years in that post until he lost the seat in 2004 to Democrat Thomas Drew.

Known for his convivial nature and tangle of white hair, Dickman entered public service as a member of the town's Zoning Board of Appeals in 1967, and served several terms. He was first elected to the Board of Selectmen in 1977 during the administration of legendary Democrat John J. Sullivan, but shifted to the majority side of the board when fellow Republican Durrell was elected first selectman in 1983.

Former Selectman Jill Kelly said Dickman was "the dearest, sweetest man I knew. He was a wonderful, wonderful gentleman of the old school and a delight to be with and work with."

She said the Massachusetts native was devoted to his family and the Boston Red Sox. "I think after his family and the Red Sox, he loved the town of Fairfield and I think he loved serving the town of Fairfield. We'll miss him, that's for sure."

Elinor Wilber served with Dickman in the state House of Representatives, but their friendship dated back long before that.

"He was a very good friend to me and a very good friend to the Republican Party in Fairfield," Wilber said. She also recalled his intimate knowledge of Robert's Rules of Order, saying that he "was a specialist in managing the rules."

But most of all, Wilber said, "He was a really, really good friend."

Probate Judge Daniel Caruso had known Dickman since 1975. "Carl Dickman lived to serve God, his family, his constituents and the Boston Red Sox -- and not necessarily always in that order," Caruso said.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, a Republican who holds the 132nd District seat in the state House of Representatives that Dickman did for five terms, first met him when she started the One Voice organization in 1995

"He always reached out, especially to the newcomers. He was a stately figure and you just knew you could trust him," said Kupchick. "Carl always made himself available to answer questions, give you the detailed history on an issue, explain procedures of government. He was a mentor to many of us. I talked to Carl often for advice and guidance."

Dickman, she said, told stories that "allowed you to feel like you were actually involved in the history of the town, just like you lived it."

Kupchick said he wanted her to run for his former seat for years, and when she launched her campaign last year, she asked him to be the chairman of her campaign committee. "He was so happy when I decided to run. My campaign had weekly meetings at my home starting in January and Carl was always there." After her victory in November, she said, she wrote to Dickman telling him, " `I will do my best to carry on your legacy of integrity and honor,' and that I was grateful he was my friend."

"I really loved him and while I'm very sad that I won't be able to talk to my friend again, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from him and will cherish all the wonderful memories I get to keep because he was my friend," Kupchick added.

Fairfield Town Clerk Betsy Browne called Dickman "a mentor and dear friend for over 20 years." As the executive secretary to Durrell early in her career, Browne saw a lot of Dickman. She also was the recording secretary to the Water Pollution Control Authority, including the years Dickman was the board's chairman, and to the committee overseeing golf course expansion, on which Dickman also served.

"Carl was a man of great devotion to his family, Fairfield and his faith. He made his decisions based on common sense and what was best for all concerned," said Browne, who also was treasurer for Dickman's legislative campaigns. "I will miss his good counsel."

Patricia A. Hines, a former Fairfield Citizen editor, said, "No one loved his town, state and country more than Carl Dickman. And just as much as he loved those, he loved politics and the Boston Red Sox. He was a true public servant -- giving of his time and energy throughout his life whenever he was asked and sometimes when he wasn't.

"Every time I ran into him, he reminded me that we were supposed to have a breakfast date so we could talk about politics. I regret now never taking him up on his offer," said Hines, who edited the newspaper for 24 years.

"I am sorry that the newer residents of our town didn't get to know Carl and the other people of his time, many of them also gone. They were members of a generation that laid the foundation for the Fairfield we all get to enjoy today."

In the realm of politics, Dickman was a member of the Republican State Central Committee from 1970 to 1976 and was the chairman of the 4th Congressional Republican Organization from 1974 to 1977.

Born July 6, 1926, in Rockport, Mass., Dickman served in the U.S. Navy for three years and later was recalled to active duty during the Korean Conflict, according to his biography on file with the legislature.

Following his discharge from the Navy, he attended the University of Bridgeport, where he majored in biology. He was an associate member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and later worked as a cytologist.

He was a life member Knights of Columbus, Father Coleman Council and the Msgr. William Blake General Assembly of Fairfield, as well as the AARP and the American Legion Post 74 in Fairfield.

An avid golfer, he served as both the president and vice president of the H. Smith Richardson Golf Club in Fairfield and two-terms as the president of the New England Public Golf Association.

He was the husband of the late Grace K. (Raveis) Dickman, and they were the parents of two daughters.

Calling hours will be Friday, Feb. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m., in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Emery's Church. Burial with military honors will be in Lawncroft Cemetery. To sign an online guest register, visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com.