Hello, Palermo Community!

The Town of Palermo honored Paul Eugene Dixon March 23 with the Boston Post Cane as the oldest citizen of Palermo.

Paul was born in Aledo, Illinois, on Feb. 19, 1926. He grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and graduated from high school in 1944. Memories of childhood include spending time in the summers with his grandparents in Joy, and fishing with friends. A particular memory was taking a trip to Chicago in 1933 at age 7 to visit the Century of Progress World’s Fair.

What does he remember most? “Sally Rand!” The world’s fair featured a sky ride, two towers on either side of a pond with a gondola that went back and forth between. General Motors and Ford had big exhibits where they actually made cars, and Sinclair Oil (with the big green dinosaur) was also present.

When Paul’s sister Ann was born when he was 7, he told his Mom to “Put her back!”

Paul started making model airplanes when he was 10, a hobby he enjoys to this day.

Paul joined the U.S. Army Air Force after graduating from high school. He and his buddy, Wiley, were in the Army Aviation Cadet Program and wanted to become pilots. However, since the war in Europe was progressing well, the training program was canceled, and Paul didn’t have the opportunity to realize his dream.

After two years in the Army, Paul attended the University of Illinois on the G.I. bill. His original ambition was to become an aeronautical engineer, but “the mathematics were a challenge.” He then went through a career guidance process with the vice chancellor that resulted in his going into architectural engineering. Paul graduated in 1947, and began his lifelong career as an architect.

“I had the great good fortune to work half-time as a student in the U of I’s architect’s office and get acquainted with a lot of people I otherwise would never had known," he said. "Those relationships became increasingly beneficial to me after graduation.”

Paul worked for the university for 31 years in various locations, including the College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois, and in Chicago. Paul’s last project before retiring in 1989 was working on the Beckman building on the main campus in Champaign-Urbana. “That was the greatest project I had in my time!" he said. "We built a research facility for advanced science and technology. Ten years after the building was built, the success was boundless, and it continues to progress today.

"That was a joy for me," Paul said. "I got to meet people I’d never even heard of.”

After losing his first wife, Eileen, after 30 years of marriage, Paul met and married Diane. How did they meet? Paul was part of an internet chat room for gardening, and asked one of his friends, “Where do you suppose I could find some ladies?” She advised him to try a sewing group. “One thing led to another, and ‘bingo’!” Paul and Diane have been married for 20 years and live in the house he designed with beautiful views to the northwest of Maine’s mountains.

Paul and Diane share the lower-level studio, part devoted to Paul’s model airplane hobby and part devoted to Diane’s long-arm quilting business and hobby. Besides being with Diane, he enjoys the company of his German Shepherd, Archie, and cat, Annie.

“I turned 95 and said I never dreamed I’d be 90, let alone 95," Paul said. "What the future will bring, I have no idea.”