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Richard Dixon remembered for breaking color barriers, serving others

The casket containing the body of Richard Dixon is transported from the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center on the Morgan State University campus in Baltimore following a funeral service Tuesday.
The casket containing the body of Richard Dixon is transported from the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center on the Morgan State University campus in Baltimore following a funeral service Tuesday. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

BALTIMORE - Family and friends are grieving the loss of Richard N. Dixon, but all of those at his funeral service Tuesday rejoiced at the time they spent with him and spoke of the powerful legacy he leaves behind.

Dixon, 74, of New Windsor, died Thursday morning in Baltimore following a stroke earlier last week.

A celebration of his life was held Tuesday in the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center's Gilliam Concert Hall on the campus of Morgan State University, his alma mater.

Friends hugged family members and paid their respects before the formal service began at 1 p.m. Former Carroll County members of the House of Delegates, who served with Dixon, as well as Democratic Central Committee campaign workers, attended the service.

A number of those involved with the Former Students and Friends of Robert Moton School, Inc., an organization he founded, members of the Frederick Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and several others who knew Dixon both professionally and personally were also in attendance. Theresa Franklin from Robert Moton School, Inc., Earl H. Robbins Jr., from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity's Frederick Alumni Chapter and Maryland senate president Mike Miller spoke of their memories with Dixon.

The Rev. Christopher Serufusa gave the eulogy and benediction, discussing how Dixon was a devout Christian. His parents struggled, but had high expectations for Dixon and his siblings, insisting they all attend college. He was married to his wife, Grayson, for more than 50 years.

He loved Carroll County, the place he was proud to call home, and was an honest role model, Serufusa said.

"He leaves a wonderful legacy for all of us," he said.

Several readings and musical selections helped paint the picture of Dixon's character, such as the singing of "I Don't Feel No Ways Tired," recorded by the Rev. James Cleveland, which was a tribute to the countless hours Dixon spent helping others.

Edith Dixon Davenport, Dixon's sister, shared memories of her brother and discussed how proud his family was of his accomplishments.

He wore many hats, serving in his life as an Army lieutenant then captain, Vietnam war veteran, a Bronze Star Medal recipient, stock broker, educational adviser, legislator, state treasurer, husband, brother, father and grandfather.

Dixon achieved many firsts. He was the first black teenager to work on Main Street in Westminster at a store called Rosenstock's, and the first black person to work as a stock broker in the Baltimore office of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, to serve on the appointed Carroll County school board in 1970, to win a primary in the county as a Democrat and to become a delegate in Carroll County history.

"At each and every phase of his development, we proudly lived with him and celebrated his life for 74 years and we enjoyed every moment of the ride. And oh was it a ride," Davenport said.

People would whisper in his ear that he should run for United States president, she said. Many family members admired his ability to play hardball, something he did with humor and style.

"We were proud of Richard. Proud but also astounded and astonished at his incredible career," Davenport said. "Did we love him? You betcha."

Morgan State University president emeritus Earl Richardson spoke of how much Dixon supported the college. He was one-of-a-kind, and there will never again be a man like him, Richardson said.

"Richard was proof positive that there's a great creator and man is evidence of his great creativity," he said.

Jean Lewis, president of the Carroll County NAACP, said Dixon was a phenomenal man who stayed true to his roots and always listened to his constituents.

About 18 months ago, the Community Media Center in Carroll County recorded Dixon's oral history, which will be important so children are able to learn about what he has done for the community.

"It will show them that they can achieve," she said. "His presence will be sorely missed in Carroll County."

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