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Ellen Dickson, described as a natural teacher who fulfilled her dream when she became a professor at Hamline University in the early 1990s, has died. She was 64.

Dickson was able to teach at the St. Paul university for only a short time before breast cancer forced her to retire in 2000.

Dickson died June 24 at her home in Falcon Heights. "She was a fighter," her husband, Jim Dickson, said Friday. "She just refused to let it get her down."

Ellen Dickson was born in Minneapolis on July 12, 1943. A memorial supper will be held at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park in St. Paul on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m.

"That's our wedding anniversary," said Jim Dickson, who married Ellen in 1979 after they met at a pottery class.

Ellen Dickson graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis and obtained an English degree from the University of Minnesota in the early 1960s.

Her interest in research led her to work at the University of Minnesota, first as an assistant to the head of the School of Pharmacy and later as part of a groundbreaking colon-cancer study at the School of Medicine in the 1970s.

Her interest in health care led her to obtain her master's degree in health-care administration from Texas Women's University in Dallas.

After the couple moved to Denver, she obtained her doctorate in public policy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, focusing on the health-care industry.

She and her husband returned to the Twin Cities in the early 1990s; she landed a job teaching public policy to graduate students at Hamline and St. Mary's universities.

She also had a passion for gardening. In 2003 she earned the designation of master gardener from Ramsey County.