State Treasurer Nancy Kopp announced on Thursday, June 7, that Carroll County native and former Maryland treasurer Richard Dixon, 74, has died.
In a statement, Kopp said Dixon, who not only served as state treasurer but also was a state delegate representing Carroll County and a past president and member of the Board of Education, died following a stroke earlier in the week.
Kopp described Dixon as a man who was, "clear and confident in his convictions, and brought great intelligence and common sense to public service.
"My condolences go to his wife and family," she said in the statement.
Kopp noted that Dixon, a Democrat, had an exemplary career in public service, highlighted by a number of firsts — including being Maryland's first black state treasurer.
"I had the very good fortune to serve with Richard in the House of Delegates for 12 years and in particular together on the Appropriations Committee," she said. "Treasurer Dixon was a person who succeeded as a military officer during the Vietnam War, as a businessman and stockbroker, as a state legislator and as the state treasurer."
Susanne Brogan, an aide in Kopp's office, said the current treasurer received a phone call today from Dixon's son, Tim, relaying the news.
"I think knowing the treasurer would be issuing a press release, the family thought that would be the way to inform the media," Brogan said.
Born and raised in Carroll County, Dixon was elected state treasurer by the General Assembly in January 1996, and re-elected January 1999. He resigned the post in February 2002.
As treasurer, he became the first elected state Constitutional officer from Carroll County in 100 years, according to his official biography on the Maryland State Archives website.
Dixon was born on April 17, 1938, and attended Robert Moton School in Westminster. He received his bachelor of science degree and a master's degree in business administration from Morgan State .
Serving in theU.S. Armyfrom 1960 to 1968, attained the rank of captain. He served with the 101st Airborne Division and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, according to his biography.
He served on the Carroll County Board of Education from 1970 to 1978, and was board president from 1975-77.
In the House of Delegates, Dixon represented Carroll County from 1983 to 1996. A member of the House Appropriations Committee from 1983 to 1996, he chaired its capital budget subcommittee and served on its education and economic development subcommittee and the oversight committee on pensions. He was the House Chair of the Joint Budget and Audit Committee, 1988-94, and the Special Joint Committee on Pensions, 1989-94.
As a legislator, Dixon is credited in his state biography with sponsoring numerous bills aiding Carroll County projects, including a new emergency room and expansion at Carroll Hospital Center; a new YMCA building; and numerous facilities at then-Western Maryland College (now McDaniel), including the Hoover Library.
After he left the office of the treasurer, Dixon remained a favorite son of Carroll.
In 2004, the Baltimore Sun reported that Dixon — who had been instrumental in the 1970s in getting a new elementary school in Westminster named Robert Moton Elementary — was honored at the school with a portrait that had been painted by local artist Tom Holder.
When he was with the school board, Dixon had insisted that the new elementary building be named Robert Moton — after the school he had attended, but was closed in 1965 when the county schools were integrated. Its building is part of the Carroll Community College campus.
Robert Moton School, named for the black Virginia educator who headed Tuskegee Institute from 1915 to 1935 was, for 35 years, a 12-grade school that provided the only education available to black children in Westminster, and Dixon had wanted that heritage remembered.
"I am the one who insisted the new school keep the name of the old one, even though the student body would be mostly white — that is the makeup of Carroll County," Dixon told the Sun in 2004. "I was on the school board at the time and I had the support of my colleagues in this effort, although the decision was not the popular one."
Education was an integral part of Dixon's life, and he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 1988 from then-Western Maryland College, and an Honorary Doctor of Public Service in 1994 from Carroll Community College.
Villa Julie College and Morgan State University also conferred honorary degrees on him in 1997.