Alaska’s oldest military veteran and Kenai resident Hallie Odessa (Williams) Dixon, 104, passed away Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 at her daughter and son-in-law’s home in Kenai.
A viewing was held from 1-2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church at 225 S. Spruce St. in Kenai, with a funeral mass following at 2 p.m. Father Robert Whitney officiated. Pallbearers were Adrian Dixon, Sean Dixon, Phillip Dixon, Joseph Dixon, Erik Lindow and August Lindow. Burial will be in June, next to her husband, in Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.
Hallie was born Nov. 25, 1916 in Walker, AR in the midst of WWl and the outbreak of the Spanish flu epidemic to sharecroppers Roland and Lela Belle (Creson) Williams, her birth as the 7th of 12 children exempted her father from having to go to war. As a young child, the family traveled by horse and wagon up to northwestern AR and settled near Leachville, where she completed high school.
In 1937 she moved to Miami, FL with relatives, eventually found work with Western Union and learned to bowl; becoming a top competitor, setting records, and earning cash prizes throughout the war years. She met a handsome and kind trucker named Paul, who flew planes as a hobby and taught her to dance. With the onset of WW ll and her boyfriend being deployed overseas, she decided to move closer to siblings in Detroit, MI. She secured a transfer with Western Union and took the trolley downtown into work.
With the loudspeaker’s daily pleas for people to help with the war effort, she soon enlisted as a U.S. Navy Wave. She was sent to Hunter College in New York, NY for training as a Telegrapher Second Class and Teletype Operator and was sent back to FL. She was then selected to handle top secret cryptographic aids for ship to shore communications. She served from Apr. 5, 1944, until her honorable discharge on Oct. 3, 1945.
She married her sweetheart, Army Air Corp Sergeant Paul T. Dixon on July 14th, 1945 at the Naval Air Station Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Their Union lasted 66.5 yrs.
Paul took a job managing airfields in three different states before taking a job with the Civil Aeronautics Administration (the CAA later became FAA) and relocating to Alaska in Dec. 1950. Hallie followed in January 1951 with 3.5 children in tow. Landing at Elmendorf Air Force Base in a horizontal blizzard and 30 below temps, the stewardess and pilot each grabbed the hand of a child, mom hung onto the third child, and they trekked across the snowy tarmac to a light in the distance; a truly Alaskan welcome! She lived in Anchorage, St. Mary’s, Palmer, and Kenai. It would be another 34 years before she would see her own family again.
Hallie was an exceptional wife, mother, and homemaker, raising 11 children alongside her husband. Her reputation for Alaskan hospitality reflected her southern roots; you never left her house hungry. She was the master of leftovers, was resourceful and thrifty. She made hand-me-downs an exciting surprise. Our home was full of hugs, kisses, singing, squabbles, sound discipline, hearing long stories about our parents’ childhood, bush Alaska, or world-wide travel adventures, laughter, church activities and worship at home as a family. Many a fun evening was spent pushing the rugs and furniture out of the way to learn the fox trot, box step, Charleston, and waltz. Hallie’s dedication to God, her husband and family were legendary and an inheritance our family will always treasure and draw strength from.
Never one to be left out, our mom was always ready for a road trip, camping in Homer, picnics across Cook Inlet at Pt. Mackenzie in the 30 ft dory our dad built and named after his bride. Paul and Hallie took their two youngest children out to St. Mary’s in 1975, where Paul’s work with St. Mary’s Native Corporation and other towns and villages in the Calista Region were more accessible. They especially enjoyed the all-night fishing excursions down the Andreafsky River, subsistence fishing on the Yukon River, picking gallons of blueberries, snow machining, and riding her beloved Honda 3-wheeler across the tundra. After 14 years, Paul retired and they moved back to Anchorage to enjoy many happy years with their ever-growing family, community activities, and motor home trips outside.
Hallie was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, where she was a homebound Eucharistic Minister. She was also a volunteer at St. Francis House Rummage and Food Pantry, a voter registrar, weather station recorder, and member of the Catholic Daughters of America, American Legion Post 21, Alaskan Prospector’s Society, Pioneers of Alaska and the Elks Club.
Hallie was preceded in death by her husband, Paul Dixon, granddaughters, Carmen Dixon and Molly McGee, grandson, Michael Dixon, parents; Roland and Lela Belle (Creson) Williams, brothers; Andrew, Minor, John, Lightle, Roland and Floyd, and sisters; Vernillia Williams, Eura Honnoll, Lela Jones, Betty O’Dell, and Mamie Delbridge.
She is survived by her children and their spouses, Duan (Mary) Dixon of Wylie, Texas, Roland Gregory Dixon of Anchorage, Naida (Thomas) McGee of Anchorage, Barry (Maria) Dixon of Seville, Spain, Chad (Darlene) Dixon of Anchorage, Juliana Dixon of Anchorage, Jed (Susan) Dixon of Anchorage, Alfred (Iva) Dixon of Boise, Idaho, Adrian (Cara) Dixon of Anchorage, Rita (Erik) Lindow of Kenai and Regina Jensen of Anchorage; 22 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.