The Hardest Words

Warren E. Dixon, Jr., 73, of Merrimac passed away July 5 after a three-month battle with mesothelioma at Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill.

The son of Warren E. Dixon, Sr. and Pauline (Pickard) Dixon, he was born the eldest son of 14 siblings on August 27, 1942 in Lowell. Warren graduated from Pentucket Regional High School in the Class of 1961 along with his sweetheart, Joyce (Burnham) Dixon, whom he married two years later.

Shortly after graduation, Warren joined the U.S. Navy where he served for nearly four and a half years until his honorable discharge.

After his Navy days, Warren became a meter reader for Haverhill Gas, Essex County Gas, and National Grid where he was honored with numerous excellences in customer service awards. Upon retirement after 29 years, Warren accepted a custodial position with the Merrimac public school system where he remained for 14 years. He enjoyed his work in both positions and was regarded for his dedication, kindness, and attention to detail.

An avid collector, Warren enjoyed flea marketing and post card shows where he’d add to his abundance of treasures. He tended to his immaculate lawn in the evenings and enjoyed a nightly puzzle before bed. Warren loved spending time with his family, and was well known for his Thanksgiving stuffing balls.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Warren’s family includes a daughter, Lisa Brown, and husband, Tim, of Sugar Hill, N.H.; son, David Dixon, and wife, Stephanie, of Cornish, Maine; grandson, David Ziebart, of Derry, N.H.; granddaughter, Meg Brown, of Bethlehem, N.H.; and grandsons Eddie and Danny Dixon of Cornish, Maine.

How do you summarize a vibrant and amazing life in less than 300 words? A life so full of love that has left us way too early.

One of my first tasks at the Littleton Courier was proofreading the obituaries. I'd share the life stories with Nanny and Grandpa, and a few of the corrections I'd made. One man's obituary stated he served during Pearl Harbor and joined the military in 1942. I called the number listed- his wife- to confirm that he actually joined in 1941. It was these stories that led Grandpa to turn to me one evening and ask, "Miss Meg, when I die, will you write my obituary?"

I laughed it off and said, "Of course, Grandpa," expecting that day to come decades ahead. He asked me again over a month ago.

Writing has always been my way of processing thoughts and feelings, but I'm at a loss. Growing up I could sense the pride Grandpa had towards his service in the Navy. His smile while recollecting stories, the Navy cap he'd wear when going out, the anchor magnet on the refrigerator, so many mementos. There's a framed black and white photo of the U.S.S. Johnston going down the sketchy stairs into his basement. It's devastating to us that Grandpa's Naval service led to his premature end, but Uncle Dave says he believed Grandpa was proud to have died early due to his service for the U.S. Uncle Dave was in the Air Force, so he understands.

But the one thing everyone agrees upon, is that this happened way too soon.