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Larry's Story

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A curious intellect with a compassionate heart, Larry Dixon has been a part of the Lockwood community since the 1970s, as a high school science teacher, high school academic team coach, pool manager, library board member, Sunday school teacher, gardener, softball coach and "chauffeur".
Larry Eugene Dixon, of Lockwood, Mo., departed this life June 21, 2017, in the Good Shepherd Nursing Home at the age of 70.
He was born Oct. 15, 1946, in Siloam Springs, Ark., the son of Frances and Carl Dixon, an engineer with Kansas City Southern. He grew up in Heavener, Okla., with two siblings - older brother Jim and younger sister Carla. He enjoyed the outdoors, comic books, reading science fiction and playing trombone in the band.
He attended Kansas State College of Pittsburg, earning a bachelor's in chemistry, a master's degree in physical science and a commission in the U.S. Army ROTC. Most importantly, he met his wife of 50 years, Melinda, there over a game of cards in the student union during their freshman year. Then, they were married between their junior semesters. Larry and Melinda's off-campus home was the site of weekly 'Star Trek' nights and they developed a mutual fondness for cooking. Larry was known for his stir-fry and handmade New Year's Day pizza.
Fulfilling his military duty, Larry attended signal corps officer basic training at Fort Gordon, Ga. He was deployed to Vietnam with the 39th Signal Battalion and assigned as communications officer to a Pershing Missile Battalion as the Battalion Wire Officer and later Battalion Adjutant at a base called "Plantation" between Long Bihn and Bihn Hoa. As wire officer, he was responsible for all of south central South Vietnam's military telephone lines and, later, as adjutant for the entire battalion's administration. Before he was sent home in 1971, he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service, the national defense service medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He received his honorable discharge in 1975 and was a member of the Roy E. Carr American Legion Post 372.
As a civilian, Larry entered the engineering world as a power systems engineer at Eagle Picher, in Joplin, Mo. He was involved in analysis of NASA's Lunar Rover's batteries, development of batteries for the Space Shuttle, and various missile battery systems for the defense department, including the Tomahawk cruise missile. Throughout his life, he remained up-to-date with science and technology and looked forward to the latest innovations.
He chose to enter teaching to spend more time with his family, after his daughter, Michelle, was born in 1974. He coached her summer softball teams for more than a decade, often providing transportation for other players. He was always encouraging of, not only Michelle, but her friends. He enjoyed taking pictures and video of their activities.
Larry also was proud of his New Zealand daughter, Jo Tyler Boyd, who stayed with their family as an AFS exchange student during the 1991-1992 school year. They remained close. Larry and Melinda even traveled to New Zealand. He also enjoyed traveling with his family to mountains, canyons, Alaska and Washington D.C.
Larry taught science three years at Miller High School before being hired at Lockwood High School in 1976 and teaching full-time until 2001 and another 10 years part-time. He never hesitated to challenge his students. Several returned to thank him for preparing them for college-level courses. And many students have gone on to science-related fields, including healthcare, engineering and education. He was named a Joplin Globe Distinguished Educator in 1993, after being nominated by former student Justin Ogden, who is now an orthopedic surgeon in Lamar, Mo. And, he was recognized by the University of Missouri-Columbia as an Outstanding Teacher, nominated by former student Brenda Huser, now a chiropractor, in Lexington, Ky.
He enjoyed being a grandfather to William Reagan and was proud of William's success playing the violin, including his recent graduation from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in music performance.
Larry also received the Carol Farmer Founders Award in 2006 from the Missouri Academic Coaches Association, of which he was a past president, for his lifetime of service, in partnership with Melinda. In addition to building a formidable program at Lockwood High School, they also organized highly-respected tournaments, including Mind Games, one of the largest annual tournaments ever in southwest Missouri, averaging 64 teams from 1993 until 2012. Larry, with Melinda, also was named the grand marshal of the 2015 Lockwood September Days parade, as representatives of the teaching community.
He served on the Lockwood Park Board and spent several summers as its pool manager. More recently, he had been a member of the Lockwood Library Board. Larry also taught Sunday school at First Baptist Church for decades and he had stayed involved with education, providing science-related tutoring. He and Melinda stayed involved with academic tournaments with a question-writing service. And he devoted hours each day to his garden. Even in his last days at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, Larry continued to share his kind heart and interest in others' well-being.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Carl and Frances Dixon.
Survivors include his wife, Melinda, of Lockwood; daughter, Michelle Brooks, of Jefferson City, Mo., and her husband, Stephen; grandson, William Reagan, of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; brother, Jim, of Miami, Okla., and his wife, Charlene; sister, Carla, of Oologah, Okla., and her husband, LaRue; and their exchange-student daughter, Jo (Tyler) Boyd, of Taupo, New Zealand.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, in the First Baptist Church, of Lockwood. Burial will follow in Lockwood Cemetery. The family will receive friends on Saturday from 12 p.m. until service time in the church.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ken Hall Memorial Science Scholarship, the Shelley Sparks Memorial Academic Team Scholarship, or to the American Cancer Society.
Online condolences may be shared at
www.greenfieldfuneralchapel.com.
Services are under the care of Lockwood Funeral Chapel.
Published on June 23, 2017
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