Joe N. Dixon

[Age 51] The Baltimore resident owned a diving and salvage company based in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County.

May 12, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Joe N. Dixon, former owner of an Anne Arundel County diving and salvage company, died of stomach cancer Monday at his Hamilton home. He was 51.

Mr. Dixon was born in Tallahassee, Fla., and spent part of his youth there and in Youngstown, Ohio.

After serving in the Marine Corps in the early 1970s, he moved to Seattle, where he became a certified commercial diver. He moved to Baltimore in 1988 and established Dixon Divers on Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena.

"Dixon Divers was one of the only diving firms owned by an African-American," said his wife of 18 years, the former Sandra F. Stiles, a Baltimore special-education teacher.

Mr. Dixon - who was on call 24 hours a day - often worked in dark, cold, murky water and had to contend with treacherous tidal conditions. He specialized in conducting dam, bridge, tunnel, pipeline and wharf inspections. His salvage operations included bringing to the surface cranes, boats, airplanes, vehicles and industrial equipment.

Mr. Dixon's company assisted construction companies and government agencies, as well as fire and police departments, conducting search, rescue and recovery operations.

One of his more interesting jobs, his wife recalled, was removal of Seven Foot Knoll Light, an 1856 wrought-iron screwpile lighthouse, from its former home. The lighthouse, which once marked the southern end of the Patapsco River, was reinstalled on Pier 5 in the Inner Harbor in 1988.

"He was highly regarded among his peers, and the diving world will miss him. You could always count on him for his support and generosity," said Mark A. Handon, a Washington salvage diver and longtime friend.

"We worked together on many inspections and many difficult jobs. ... He was always very careful and very skilled," Mr. Handon said. "He had a lot of experience and knowledge, and never put his people in danger just to get a job done."

He closed the business in 1994.

Mr. Dixon was an accomplished bodybuilder and weight lifter. He also was editor and publisher of Down Line, an industrial publication for members of the East Coast chapter of the Association of Diving Contractors.

At Mr. Dixon's request there will be no services.

"This summer, we'll put his ashes in the ocean. One of the last things he did was plot a course 22 miles east of Ocean City where he wanted his ashes scattered. He had worked off Ocean City and wanted the water to be a certain depth," Mrs. Dixon said.

Also surviving are six sons, Quran Dixon of Baltimore, Adonay J. Dixon, Vhamiel U. Dixon, Rahman X. Dixon, all of Hamilton, Bedric Dixon and Dafarus Dixon, both of Youngstown; three daughters, Nyasha M. Dixon, and Bashiyra F. Dixon, both of Hamilton, and Brianna Rapp of Youngstown; two brothers, Charles Dixon of San Diego and Allen Dixon of Tallahassee; five sisters, Henrietta Collier, Pat Crockett and Lynn Dixon, all of Youngstown, and Leslie Graham and Mary Dixon, both of Tallahassee; and nine grandchildren. His marriage to the former Cherie Furman ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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