Planting the seeds
The seeds for Dixon’s election to the coroner’s office were actually planted in the 1980s when she and her late husband, Donald, owned and operated Dixon Ambulance Service in Whitfield County for six-and-a-half years. After selling the business and opening a florist shop called Bobbie’s, she was encouraged by some prominent local medical leaders to run for coroner in 1992. Her caring attitude struck a chord with voters, and she’s never been challenged since.
While she modestly says she doesn’t “have a clue” why voters have responded so positively to her, Dixon says she appreciates all their support. “I appreciate ’em all,” she says. “I guess God’s been with me. I couldn’t do it without him because sometimes … a lot of times, I say, ‘God, get me out of this one, and I’ll get out of the next one myself.’ That happens many times.”
The compassion she’s shown to families visited by death and serious illness during the past 20 years goes back a lot longer than just 1993.
While she and Donald were running the ambulance service, they became a big supporter of the work done by the Shriners and their children’s hospitals.
“We transported I don’t know how many children,” she says. “We’d either take them to the airport or transport them to Augusta to the burn center. We never made a ticket on them, never charged them nothing to take them. They’d be burnt so bad … you can’t hand nobody a charge for something like that. Donald would just say we’ll make it up somewhere else.”
The “payment” sometimes came years later in a non-monetary way.
After transporting a young girl with swelling on the brain to the hospital many years ago, the girl, now married with two children of her own, dropped by to see Dixon one day.
“She said, ‘Do you know who I am?’” Dixon says. “I said, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t.’ Then she told me about that trip, and ‘Oh, honey, yes I do, I know who you are now.’ She said, ‘Yep, you rode with me to Atlanta when I was so sick.’”
Just recently, Dixon answered a call where a man had just died, and his wife looked at her and said, “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“I said, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t.’ She said, ‘Did you ever ride to Atlanta with a little 3-month-old kid that had pericarditis?’ I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ She said, ‘That was my son. He’s 35 now, and you know, they told us when y’all left out with him that y’all might not make it to Atlanta.’ I said, ‘Tell me about it! Me and Dr. Spanger fought with that baby; we ambo’d him all the way to Atlanta and they finally got that infection out from around his heart and he pulled through it.’”
Dixon also receives Christmas cards from out-of-town families whose loved one’s death here was investigated by her and she made a lasting impression on them.