Friday, February 8, 2013

In Memoriam Dr. Joseph Dixon, Penn State University Senate Chair 1982-83

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Dr. Joseph Dixon, Chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate 19882-83.

Joseph A. Dixon

Joseph A. Dixon
(November 4, 1919 - February 7, 2013)

  The obituary follows.

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Joseph A. Dixon
Joseph A. Dixon, 93, died on February 7 after a period of failing health. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, the son of Joseph Francis Dixon and Mabel Miltenberger Dixon. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph. D. degrees in chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University and became a faculty member at Penn State until 1950 when he joined Standard Oil Company of California as a research chemist in 1951-1952. He then taught at Lafayette College until he returned to Penn State in 1955. He remained there until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1985. From 1971 to 1984 he was head of the chemistry department. In 1988 he received The Pennsylvania State University College of Science Award for Distinguished service. He was a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) from 1942 and active in the Central Pennsylvania Section from 1956. He was a member of the ACS Council for 27 years. Included in his activities during this period were memberships in fourteen committees, including the ACS committees on Chemical Abstracts, budget and finance, and publications. At one time or another, he served three-year terms as chair of each of these society committees. From 1987 to 1995, he was a member of the ACS Board of Directors and from 1990 to 1992, Chair of the Board. Joe was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chemical Heritage Foundation from 1991 to 1993 and vice-chair of the liaison committee of the ACS and the Smithsonian Institution for the "Science in American Life" exhibition, 1990 - 1992. His research interests were primarily in the synthesis and properties of high molecular weight hydrocarbons and the structure of organolithium compounds. He was a section editor of the ACS Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data from 1978 - 1988. Joe was an avid hiker and loved to travel, covering a large portion of the globe both during and after his ACS affiliation. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, LaVada Jo McVay Dixon. His first wife, Marjorie Jane Watts, predeceased him in 1978. He leaves behind a son, Brian, and his wife, Karen, of Sandwich, MA, a daughter, Kathleen, and her husband, Walter Swift, of Lyme, NH as well as four grandchildren and three great grandchildren: Shannon Dixon and Matthew Dixon of Los Angeles, CA, Brian Swift, his wife Rebecca Burda, and their son, Noah, of Evanston, IL, and Adam Swift, Megan Swift, and their daughters, Jocelyn and Micaela of San Jose, CA. In keeping with Joe's wishes, there will be no viewing or public memorial service. Donations in his memory may be made to the Joseph A. Dixon Endowment in Chemistry and should be mailed to the Chemistry Department, 101 Chemistry Building, University Park, PA 16802. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at

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