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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

A veteran Gives Back

Friday, October 10, 2003

Margie Bryant, front center, hands out a check for $5,000, from her father's estate, to Nancy Berkheiser, CEO of the YMCA. Five other organizations also received a similar check. Left: Dylan Hyatt with his dad Mitch Hyatt from the Clay Youth football League; Richard Dickerson and Jim Cassidy, VFW; L.T. Clark and Tony Jeffries, Clay County Youth League; Charlie Brown, Clay County Humane Society and David McFaddin, American Legion.

The late Bob Dix, who passed away Nov. 9, 2002, made a bequeath of $5,000 to six local organizations: The Clay Youth Football League, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Clay County Youth League, YMCA of Clay County, American Legion and the Clay County Humane Society.

The gifts inspired many who knew him to talk about their association with Dix and share their thoughts about the controversial man.

There was little gray area with Bob Dix. Most people either loved him or hated him. And that appeared to be the way Dix wanted it. The patriotic, Army Air Force veteran eagerly and adamantly shared his opinion about most things that were important to him.

He loved America. But Dix was stalwart in his beliefs that the freedom of the individual must not be compromised by the bureaucracy of government. "He thought less government was the best government," former banker Jack Pickett said about his friend.

Tad Pell, who worked for Dix for several years said "Bob's favorite quote was from Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928. If he showed it to me once he showed it to me a hundred times. It said, 'The right to be left alone (by government) is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.'"

Dix firmly believed in the 2nd Amendment. Until his death, he was the oldest life member of the National Rifle Association.

Richard Dickerson, former Commander of the VFW, said that because part of Dix's military experience during World War II was spent in Russia, his discharge papers were classified and they were not given to him. To be a VFW member, an individual must produce his discharge papers. Dix could not officially join the VFW until his papers were declassified in 2000.

"He just attended as a guest all those years," Dickerson said. "The VFW and, also, the American Legion were both very important to him. He was a great patriot."

With a degree in economics and a law degree, the John Birch Society member was very versed on the laws of the land and could usually validate his theories on what he thought was best for the country. Dix enjoyed sparing with anyone who opposed his viewpoint.

He truly believed in the first Amendment and respected the right of everyone to express their view even if he disagreed, if it was an amiable discussion. However, he wouldn't tolerate someone being argumentative.

Former businessman L.T. Clark said, "If Bob thought someone wasn't really trying to express an opposing viewpoint, that they just wanted to force their ideas on him, he showed them the door. And he didn't care if they were making a hugh purchase. He wouldn't do business with them. His integrity, character and overall credentials were never compromised,"

That practice didn't hurt the store because his company thrived. And the owner of McCurdy's Decorating Center for 51 years was a shrewd businessman. Local pharmacist Lynn Hostetler shared a story about Dix.

"Bob was very straight forward," Hostetler said. "He was honest with a lot of integrity. Bob loved to toy with state and federal tax auditors. He would bait them and try to get them to audit him. In order to do that, you have to be squeaky clean. The IRS could never find anything wrong."

Dix loved Brazil and Clay County. He thought you should support the community you live in. Many people were aware of his opinions on politics and government. And many knew of his love of country and community. Most, however, were unaware that he supported his words with action.

"I chatted with Bob at least several times a week for years," Hostetler continued. "We were good friends but I never knew about all his philanthropic work. There was no way for me to know. He just didn't talk about it."

"He ruled with an iron fist," L. T. Clark said. "But he was fair, just, genuine and totally honest. He loved this town and helped in any way he could. When you came through his door asking for money, if your cause was just and bona fide, Bob Dix filled your hand with silver. He sponsored a Clay Youth League team for years.

"We are so very appreciative of this gift from Bob Dix." Clark continued as a representative of the Clay Youth League. "We've always had to be self supporting. This is the first time we've ever received a bequeath of this magnitude."

Bob Dix gave to many causes and organizations. Parks Board president Ruthann Jeffries, who used to manage the swimming pool, said years ago Dix donated nearly a thousand dollars in paint to redo the pool house. She asked where to send the bill.

"Bob said, 'I'm not going to send you a bill. You just have to promise me you won't tell anybody.'"

Susie French of French's Funeral Home said, "He supported anything that had to do with kids. He was a stanch supporter and sponsor of Boys State. And he encouraged me and other business people to do the same. I think he was the most patriotic person in the world."

"Bob donated gallons and gallons of paint and also money to any civic project," Jack Picket said. "He was president of the Urban Renewal project in its very beginning. He helped build Cooper Towers. And he was always interested in young people," Pickett continued.

"He wanted to support the youth organizations even after he was gone because he thought they did a lot to help young people to think for themselves and they taught fairness."

Bob Dix, with his late wife, Dusty, had three children: Carolyn Dix, a North Clay Middle School teacher; Robert Dix Jr., a painter; and Margie Bryant. Margie and her husband, Bob, have taken over the business. "We're keeping it in the family," Margie said.

L.T. Clark summed up his feelings about Dix. "He was a role model for other entrepreneurial merchants. I admire and totally respect him. I hope someday I can be a contributor equal to Robert Dix."

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