May 19 Event to Celebrate Life of Mayor Ronnie Dixon
The community will come together next week to honor a man who left an enduring mark on the community he loved. Late Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, who passed away April 1, 2020, at age 77, will be remembered in a celebration of his life in downtown Vidalia. The event will be on the Vidalia City Stage on Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m., in a park he helped to build. Mayor Dixon’s family, including his wife Sandy, sons Rad, Hugh and Randy, along with his grandchildren, his brother, Wendell Dixon, and other family members and countless associates and friends are expected to attend the ceremony, which is also open to the public.
This will be the city’s second attempt to hold the memorial. An event scheduled in August 2021 was cancelled because of an upswing of COVID 19 in the community. Mayor Dixon was elected to the City Council in 1976 and began serving in 1977. He held the seat for 16 years and served five of those years as the Mayor Pro Tem. He was elected as the Mayor of Vidalia in 1992 and took office on January 1, 1993, following in the footsteps of his father Hugh Dixon, who served as Vidalia’s Mayor from 1966 to 1973.
“He made a tremendous impact on Vidalia, and our community as a servant of the citizens,” said City Manager Nick Overstreet.
Ronnie Dixon was a football star when he attended Vidalia High School and was named to the Class B All-State Team in 1959. He earned a football scholarship to Florida State University, but after a year as a Seminole, he transferred to the University of Georgia where he played football, participated in field and track and basketball. It also began his long-time admiration for the Bulldogs. He graduated from UGA with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
During his college year, he joined the National Guard during the Cuban Crisis and stayed in that service for about six months.
Over his years in public service, Mayor Dixon received numerous recognitions, including being inducted into the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Hall of Fame. Through GMA he served on the Board of Trustees, Board of Directors, GMA Resolution Committee, GMA Awards Committee, and as President of District 9.
He was a proponent of Open Government. Under his guidance, the Vidalia Regional Airport underwent an extensive renovation, and the Vidalia Sweet Onion Museum, The Vidalia Visitors’ Center and the Vidalia Community Center were constructed and upgraded.
He was hailed as great leader and friend, and his influence was felt throughout the State of Georgia. He led the community in a progressive manner that has allowed Vidalia to become an economic hub for the area. He loved the community and that love was always at the forefront of everything he did. Mayor Dixon had been an active member of the Vidalia Rotary Club since 1979, and was a Paul Harris Fellow. He had served with other civic organizations and was a member of the Vidalia First United Methodist Church.