03-21-2010 - Walt Dixon - Class of 1941, Hawthorne Historian, Dies at 85
Walt Dixon - Class of 1941 Hawthorne Historian Dies at 85
By Josh Grossberg Daily Breeze, 03.20.2010
Walt Dixon, whose lifelong love of Hawthorne led him to become the city's historian, died Saturday morning in his sleep.
He was 85, said Hawthorne Mayor Larry Guidi, who has been acquainted with Dixon since his childhood.
Dixon lived with a roommate in the city. His wife died years ago, Guidi said. Guidi was trying to contact other family members, including a son who lives in Hawaii.
"He really believed in Hawthorne," Guidi said. "He was our historian."
Dixon was 9 months old when his parents brought him to the town, moving into a nice home for $15 a month.
He grew up along with the city. When he arrived, there were bean fields and oil wells everywhere. He chronicled the city's growth as urban sprawl reached into the South Bay.
After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy as an aviator in the days before World War II. He was in the air over California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor a few months later.
He flew 55 missions over North Africa and then Europe, on bombing runs and submarine patrols. One plane he was piloting was shot full of holes during a mission and crashed into the English Channel.
After the war ended he returned to Hawthorne, where he taught flying. Dixon eventually opened a camera store in 1982. When he retired, he started researching the city's rich history. The city would ultimately issue him business cards that said, "Walt Dixon, historian."
It was a nonpaying job, but Dixon jumped into it headfirst. He and Jerry Roberts wrote a book detailing Hawthorne's history, which included an introduction by Guidi. The book "Hawthorne" was published in 2005 by Arcadia Publishing.
"He volunteered for everything," Guidi said. "He never missed a council meeting unless he was out of town or ill. He was involved in all the homeowner groups.
Del Fox Mortuary Services 4473 West 138th Street Hawthorne, CA 90250-6909 Phone: (310) 970-1205
Viewing: Del Fox Mortuary Thursday April 1, 2010 4pm - 8pm
Chapel Service: Del Fox Mortuary Monday April 5, 2010 9am
Burial Service: Following Chapel Service & Funeral Procession Riverside National Cemetery - Area Stage 6 22495 Van Buren Blvd Riverside, CA 92518 Monday April 5, 2010
Memorial Service: Hawthorne Memorial Center 3901 W El Segundo Blvd Hawthorne, CA 90250 (310) 349-1640 Thursday April 8, 2010 11am - 1pm * Lunch Reception immediately following the service.
Memorabilia Day 2010 - Guest Speakers Walt Dixon '41, Norm Wells '50, Lenore Srigley Bemis '57, Jim Osborne '77, Laura Thomas Tulla '45, Roger Hinzo '50, Hugh Wells '47, Bill Toku Nishimura '39, Sandra Castillo Suarez '72, Raylene Lamons Christmas '59