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Eagle Archive: Recalling Richard Dixon, and a son's pride in his father's legacy

It is a sad circumstance that in the past two weeks, we have said farewell to two people who have meant so much to our community.

Last week we mourned the loss of Westminster's Stan Ruchlewicz.

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This week, our county and our state said good-bye to a dedicated public official and pioneer, Richard N. Dixon.

Dixon, 74, a New Windsor resident, former Maryland state treasurer and member of the House of Delegates, died June 7 from complications of a stroke. After a service on June 12, in the Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan State University, he was laid to rest in St. Luke's United Methodist Church Cemetery in Sykesville.

Those active in Carroll County leadership in the 1970s through the 2002 knew Dixon as a steadfast, consistent and stalwart public servant.

He set the standard for representational government and constituent service. He never failed to represent the best interests of the voters from Carroll County, and did so with uncommon wisdom and uncanny common sense.

I vividly recall several years ago — it was March 5, 2010 — when Dixon's son, Timothy Dixon, gave an author's book talk at the 13th annual Random House Book Fair at Carroll Community College.

The younger Dixon spoke in great detail about his father, who was born April 17, 1938.

"He went from raising chickens and hogs in his backyard to investing billions of dollars for the state of Maryland," Tim Dixon noted as he placed his hand on a stack of books.

"Maryland's First Black State Treasurer" is the title of the book Dixon wrote about his famous Carroll County father, and it was a story local historians had looked forward to for many years.

"Whatever he became is a result of his Carroll County education," Tim Dixon said.

"He was born the fourth child of six in his family. When he was born the country was still moving through the depression era. He coped with hand-me-down schoolbooks in what was then, a segregated Carroll County public school system as he attended an all-black school from the time he was in the first grade in 1944 to the time he graduated from Robert Moton High School in 1956.

"He went on to college at a historically black college in Baltimore, Morgan State College."

Tim Dixon went on to explain that after his father graduated from college in 1960, he served in the Army for "about eight years, which included service in Vietnam, in which he earned a Bronze Star.

Dixon returned from the war in 1968 to begin a career in finance as the "first black person to work as a stock broker in the Baltimore office of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith."

Dixon went on to serve on the appointed Carroll County school board from 1970 to 1978, as a state delegate to the General Assembly from 1982 to 1996 and then Maryland state treasurer from 1996 until he retired in January 2002.

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This past week, my colleague here at The Eagle, Bob Allen, talked about Dixon's legacy with several officials who served with him in Annapolis and here in the county, including State Sen. Joe Getty of Manchester, former county commissioners Dean Minnich and Julia Gouge, and Jean Lewis, president of the county's chapter of the NAACP.

They all spoke of a man who exhibited wit, compassion, legislative prowess and a faithful dedication to his constituents and his home county.

Follow this link to Bob Allen's story

Over the years, I worked with Dixon in many capacities. His advice was always timely and thoughtful. Dixon was always kind, respectful, and considerate.

He always kept his beloved Carroll County first in his heart. He never forgot his deep roots in the community.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his wonderful family.

God bless Dixon for his life and his service.

When he is not re-reading Tim Dixon's book, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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