William (Bill) Arnold Dixon

Friday, August 21, 2009

William (Bill) Arnold Dixon was born in Nevada, on Jan. 9, 1918, and passed away in Chandler, Ariz., Aug. 18, 2009. He was married to June Eileen Fischer, (deceased) formerly of Nevada, and they had two children, Stuart (deceased) and Leslie.

Bill worked for more than 40 years with Trans World Airlines where his employment began as a ticket agent in December 1936. He also worked in the public relations department for TWA before learning to fly in World War II. Upon return from overseas service in Europe during the war, he was hired as a pilot in 1945 for TWA. His flying experiences began in the DC-3 and ended with the Boeing 747.

In 1957 he left the flight line as a captain and went to Special Flight Operations Projects and was named Director of Flying in 1959 in Kansas City and later in New York. In 1965, he was appointed as Chief Pilot in San Francisco and became General Manager of Flying -- New York, in 1973 until he retired from flying in January 1978.

Bill had many stellar moments in his career. In 1972, Bill was one of the pilots who flew the first U.S. commercial plane into China since the Communist takeover in 1947. He flew the network engineers and their equipment into China in preparation for President Nixon's visit there and then went back to retrieve them after President Nixon's visit. He also piloted the White House press corps on a number of trips including Nixon's trip to Moscow and President Ford's visits to Japan, Korea and Vladivostok, Russia, which once again was the first flight ever by a non-Communist nation commercial plane into Vladivostok.

During his career he served as president and trustee of the Airport Sound Abatement Center in San Francisco; trustee of Aviation Program at Foothill College in Los Altos, Calif., and a member of the Operations Committee at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

After retirement from TWA, Bill moved to San Jose, Calif., where he was active in the formation of the TWA Retired Pilot Organization (TARPA); was past-president of the TWA Seniors Club; a past "Big Sir" for Sons in Retirement; a member of Quiet Birdmen, a lay board member for the Villages Community Chapel; worked part-time for NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting Service and was a freelance writer and an occasional contributor to the "Letters of the Editor" page of the San Jose Mercury News.

In 1984, he won the Senior's Division First Place award for Northern California in a Bill of Rights essay contest and won a "Silver Pen" award from the San Jose Mercury News in 1998 for a letter to the editor on "The Hazards of ProlongingLife."

His hobbies while in San Jose were writing, reading, travel, golf and walking. After the death of his wife, June, in 2002, Bill moved to Chandler, Ariz., in 2004 to be near family. He was active in the local retired TWA pilots' chapter before dementia limited his ability to participate.

He is survived by his daughter, Leslie Fullen of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and his daughter-in-law, Janet Dixon of Chandler, Ariz.; five grandchildren Kristi Dixon, McKenna Dixon, Jeffrey Leal, Megan Fullen and William Fullen; and his great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at Dayspring United Methodist Church, 1365 E. Elliot Road, Tempe, Ariz., at 12:30 p.m., on Wednesday, August 26.

In lieu of donations please make donations in Bill's memory to the Alzheimer's Association at 1028 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85006 or to the charity of the donor's choice.