Frances Emmeline (DIXIE) Melby passed away on May 22, 2013 in Molalla, Oregon where she had been living with her son and his family. She was 93. Dixie was born and raised in Globe, Arizona. She earned a BA in teaching at ASU (when it was a Teachers College) and married Bill Melby in 1942. Bill subsequently had a long career as an officer in the Marine Corps. Dixie often described their life together as “a wonderful adventure-more exciting than a girl from Globe could ever have imagined”. Highlights included 3 years in Madrid, Spain where Bill was the Assistant Naval Attaché
and Dixie (because of her fluent Spanish) was the embassy’s unofficial hostess/tour guide for the US Navy whenever it made port in Spain. During this time, Dixie and three other American service wives made a road trip to Italy at a time (early fifties) when few women in Europe drove at all. Their adventures were more than worthy of a Hollywood script. A few years later Dixie found herself living in Chinhae, South Korea. Here her teaching background became an asset when she took over as the only teacher in a 2 room school until the regular teacher arrived. Dixie went on to teach English Conversation at a Korean middle school and at the South Korean Naval Academy. Before Bill retired, he was stationed on Treasure Island in San Francisco. There Dixie was awarded the title of “First Lady of The Fleet” for her tireless volunteer work on behalf of Navy families. Perhaps Dixie’s favorite duty station was Newport, RI where her love of history and antique hunting happily coincided. After Bill retired from the Marine Corps, the family settled in Phoenix. Dixie soon joined the Sodality at St. Thomas Catholic Church and then went on to become a lector for the parish. She joined the Heard Museum’s Guild in 1981, became a guide in 1982 and served as Guild President from 1989-1990. Her work with the Heard often involved visiting local schools, bringing to life the history of the southwestern native people. Dixie took real pride in being an educator. She loved that moment when a child discovered that they could “do it”. Her membership in the May Flower Society gave her another way to use her teaching skills, this time by providing workbooks about the Pilgrims to elementary schools. Most recently Dixie found fulfillment as a volunteer interpreter with the Mission of Mercy’s medical team. Dixie is survived by her four children, four grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Her children and grandchildren consider it an honor to have had her as a mother and grandmother. A Vigil Service will be held from 6:00-8:00pm, Sunday, June 2, 2013 at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30am, Monday, June 3, 2013 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 2312 E. Campbell Avenue, Phoenix. In lieu of flowers Dixie would have preferred a donation to the Mission of Mercy (www.amissionofmercy.org/arizona) or a charity of your choice.
Aunt Dixie was a wonderful lady. I loved drawing her portrait because her inner grace and beauty was impossible to miss. Thank you Jesus for blessing my life by bringing Aunt Dixie and Uncle Bill into it. Dear God I pray these words bring comfort to their children.
My Dear Aunt Dixie! So proper, always perfectly attired, beautiful jewelry, perfect hair, a Marine’s wife in every way. Kind giving soul…..but spirited! She took me to task only once at a hospital. I was trying to make a situation more light hearted and she would have none of that! Made me cry and bawled me out. Uncle Bill was dying and she did not want to hear anything humorous! I learned a different type of respect for her generation that day. To her generation light hearted humor had a different meaning.
I was so proud to include my dear Aunt on my hare brain adventures! Reunion near Heber comes to mind among other times. I loved her, loved her, and she always smelled like roses. Enjoy the Catholic party in heaven with all the “black and white hats”! God Bless and all my love always to your children and grandchildren! Will miss you terribly but happy you are with the “Melby Gang”
your niece Leslie
Craig and Jennifer Allison
The last time we spent time with Aunt Dixie at her house she was as warm and cordial as she always was when she was entertaining. She spoke about the times she and the family traveled with Bill to different locations in the Military. She enjoyed the travel and the adventure each new place brought. She was happy and felt her life was full.
We will miss her.
Diana L. Anders
I am so blessed to have known “mom” (as she had me call her), and so very grateful to have been accepted as a part of her wonderful family. She will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. May mom’s wonderful stories live on through her kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and friends.