Dale Dibble, IHRSA Co-founder, Dies


NAPLES, FL -- Dale Dibble, co-founder of Cedardale Health & Fitness, Haverhill, MA, and one of the co-founders of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), died on Monday. He was 90.

“I was in awe of him,” Rick Caro, longtime friend of Dibble and president of consulting company Management Vision, wrote in an e-mail announcing Dibble’s death. “He was so generous in every way. His down-home accent and expressions were so ingratiating. He loved life and literally defied the best hospitals and doctors for almost 20 years by exercising profusely when his arteries and heart were malfunctioning. He loved his wife (Olive Mae), loved his friends—and there were many—and enjoyed all he encountered.”

Caro wrote that Dibble led the health club industry into computerization and club management software. He created the multi-sport club by converting his plain vanilla indoor tennis building into a multi-sport club. He taught club owners and club members the value of regular change. In addition, Dibble created a seniors’ center within his club, providing computer classes, fitness equipment classes and regular social activities for seniors.

IHRSA named its distinguished service award for Dibble. The award is presented each year to an individual within IHRSA who has excelled in his or her contributions to the industry and to IHRSA.

Caro also wrote that Dibble taught many people in the industry without fear of repercussions or fear of educating his future competition.

“He had an infectious attitude, a thirst for learning, a strength in numbers, a huge belief in the team and sharing information, and a commitment to the member experience,” Caro wrote. “He regularly re-invested well in excess of industry norms to provide more. He created an outdoor facility experience and taught us the concept of corporate outings and outdoor facilities for children and the family. He believed in a major emphasis on incentives for key staff for successful performance. The culture he created was envied by all.”

Dibble and his wife, Olive Mae, retired to Naples, FL, living at Bentley Village, a Classic Residence by Hyatt retirement community. The couple became involved in the community’s fitness center and helped encourage residents to exercise at the facility. Usage at the club increased from 500 visits a month to 4,000 visits per month, in large part due to the Dibbles’ efforts, according to a 2004 article about Dibble in Pyramid, a quarterly publication of the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, so many residents began exercising that Hyatt had to change its business model because fewer residents were “moving down” to the urgent care facilities on the property as projected, Caro wrote.

Dibble, who had angina, had two heart bypass surgeries in the 1980s and a stenting procedure performed in 2000, according the article in Pyramid.

Dibble is survived by his wife and his son John. No funeral was held, and Dibble was cremated, according to Caro.

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