WHITEFIELD

October 12, 2011

Whitefield to honor fireman's life, work

New fire and rescue station will be dedicated formally to Dixon

BY JOHN MAGUIRE Correspondent

WHITEFIELD -- David Dixon's memory is held in high esteem among residents of Whitefield.

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HIGH HONOR: David Dixon is shown in this undated photo. Whitefield will dedicate its new fire and rescue station to Dixon at noon Saturday. Dixon, who died in 2009, was a volunteer firefighter for more than 30 years and helped draft the plans for the new station.

Contributed photo

He served the town in many capacities, most notably as a firefighter for more than 30 years in the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department.

On Saturday, Whitefield's new fire and rescue station will be dedicated formally to Dixon, who died in 2009.

The ceremony, which will give people a chance to reflect on Dixon's memory and recognize those who have contributed to building the station, starts at noon.

Friends described Dixon as a quiet peacemaker who embraced challenges, and a family man whose time was cut too short.

"It's well deserved," said Andy Morse, who worked with Dixon as a member of the Lions Club and the Sheepscot Valley Health Center Board of Directors. "He was a great guy. He was a very unusual guy. Nobody in the world could not like him."

Morse said Dixon was curious about many things and was always working on several projects.

Dixon made maple syrup with his neighbors and grew Christmas trees on his property with his wife, Gwyn, the town clerk.

"David never took anything," Morse said. "He always gave. He was a unifying force."

Ever the optimist, Dixon would not let long odds of beating cancer defeat his spirit.

"He knew his odds (of overcoming cancer) were not good, something like six out of 100," Morse said. "He said to me, 'I don't see why I can't be one of the six.' His approach was, 'Let's go get it.' "

Morse said Dixon was also a quiet man.

"He was unique," local architect Erik Eckholm said. "He was kind of the voice of reason and logic in a lot of meetings where emotions could easily rule."

Eckholm worked with Dixon on the plans for the new fire station.

Originally, they had drawn up plans for a town office. After meeting with firefighters and other community leaders, the plan morphed into a design for the new station.

Eckholm credits Dixon for helping unite firefighters during a time of transition, which brought the three satellite stations of Coopers Mills, Kings Mills and North Whitefield together into one department.

Dixon died shortly after he and Eckholm started to work out plans for the new fire station, Eckholm said. Though Dixon was unable to see the final plans for the station, he got through another town meeting in which residents discussed the beginnings of the plan for the new fire station.

The master plan goal was to decide what to do with all of the parts of the property.

"David was always very reasonable," Eckholm said, adding that there was a lot of rivalry between departments in the past. "The report that was created by firefighters about the department was pretty much free of rancor, and David was the principal author of it."

As members of the town's comprehensive plan committee, Dixon, Eckholm and others were faced with trying to make a case for any number of conservation issues.

Eckholm said Dixon always did careful research and produced elegant models and statistics.

"I always thought that having David in these committees cut down on a lot of bickering that would have happened otherwise," Eckhom said. "He was very reasonable. He had very strong ideas about the way things should be. He wasn't just interested in making peace; he was interested in having it done right."

A golf tournament at Sheepscot Links called Midnight Madness has been named after him, and those strolling the fields at the course can take a break and sit in the cool shade, where there is a set of stone benches and a monument in honor of Dixon.

"He was a nice guy all the way around," said his widow, Gwyn. "Everybody liked him, and we loved him."

John Maguire is a Kennebec Journal correspondent who lives in Whitefield.

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