Nancy Lee Dixon, angel to artists, joins the ancestors
HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 12/9/2011, 2:16 p.m.
In the very strict sense of the word, Nancy Lee Dixon was not a patron of the arts, but for countless aspiring artists, particularly in Harlem, she was a loyal supporter, a veritable angel when they were in need. On Dec. 3, this angel of mercy and grace joined our cherished ancestors. No cause of death or age was given.
Of course, these vital statistics are meaningless for a soul who cared so deeply and felt so warmly about her community and its denizens. Even when age and affliction limited her mobility, she still found time to be at the jazz concerts, the poetry readings, the book signings and the lectures where her "children" were on stage.
"Ms. Dixon was a friend to artists, a comrade," recalled poet and artist Stephanie Alston. "She rented apartments to many young artists from many parts of the country. She made it possible for artists like me to do our art without the burden of oppressive rents so common in Manhattan.
"But more than that," Alston continued, "Ms. Dixon offered the sage counsel of a wise woman for a generation of young artists. When we paid our monthly rents, we didn't just write a check and put it in the mail. We walked it around to her home and she invited us in. She wanted to know how things were going. She gave sound advice with humor and hindsight from her own mistakes. If she was eating, you ate. If she had gone shopping and bought a bit extra, she would ask you if you needed a pair of socks, gloves, a scarf, underwear."
Dixon was one of four children born to the late John Cooper and Daisy Mae Gravely in Martinsville, Va. She was predeceased by her three siblings, John, Cynthia and Mary Sue.
She received her formal education in the school system of Martinsville. At a young age, she accepted Christ and was baptized at the Charity Christ Church in Martinsville. In 1943, Dixon, along with her family, moved to Philadelphia, where she met, fell in love with and married the late Willie Dixon.
For many years, Dixon worked as a cigar inspector for a tobacco company in Philadelphia. As a hard worker, she engaged in many business enterprises which enabled her to do many of the things she wanted to do.
Soon after moving to Philadelphia, she united with the New Hope Temple Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late Rev. D.W. Beauford, where she served as a faithful loving member. She worked diligently as the church clerk there for a number of years.
Dixon later moved to New York, where she united with Southern Baptist Church, where she served as a faithful member. She remained in New York until her death.
Dixon was known for her radiant smile that could light up any room. She had an infectious laugh that brought joy and delight to everyone. She loved to dance, party and enjoyed lively music. She lived life to its fullest and loved shopping, traveling, cooking and spending time with her loving family and friends.
She leaves to cherish fond and precious memories one stepdaughter, Janice Lucas, of New York; nieces Patricia Gravely, of Philadelphia, and Elizabeth Gilliard, of Orlando, Fla.; great-nephews John J. Gravely Sr., Bryon K. Gravely, Claude Gravely and John W. Gravely III; great-nieces Shawn Kincaid and Elicia Jackson, of Norristown, Penn., and Alvetta B. Miles (Armand); goddaughters Deborah, Gail and Jade; and a host of cousins and friends, as well as her very special BFFs Cynthia McKenzie and Sadie Belle. Special thanks are extended to her caretakers, Diane Cupid, Theresa Kamos and the VNA and Hospice of Greater NY.
Services for Dixon will take place on Friday, Dec. 9, with a viewing from 9 to 11 a.m. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at Southern Baptist Church, 12-16 W. 108th St., between Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue.