The Rev. Samuel Dixon, seen here with Woman of the Year Jereann Bowman, was voted Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 1973. Click to enlarge.
He was a pastor and a community leader, and his dream of a medical center in Val Verde lives on 30 years after his death.
"He was a community leader but he was very involved in Newhall and Saugus," said Charlotte Kleeman, who knew the Rev. Samuel P. Dixon Jr.
Kleeman, who moved with her family to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1965, met and befriended Dixon and his family.
Dixon and Kleeman's husband Frank both served as board members with The Boys and Girls Club.
"The Boys and Girls Club had a big luau every August at the Valencia Hills Clubhouse," she said. "It was just a big community event."
Kleeman remembers Dixon preparing the shrimp inside the cafeteria at William S. Hart High School for the luau.
"My husband was always on his cooking team," Kleeman said. "Sam taught Frank how to clean shrimp."
Ed Bolden, who is currently a board member on the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, knew Dixon in the 1960s.
"I knew Sam Dixon as a pastor," the 77-year-old Bolden said.
Bolden, a civil engineer, helped Dixon build a church in Val Verde during the late 1960s.
Bolden performed grading plans and helped build retaining walls for the church, which also included an adjacent building for classrooms. The classrooms would eventually became a health center.
"He used aides for county health workers and other health providers," Bolden said of Dixon. "He wanted to serve the community."
Samuel P. Dixon Jr. was born in Toomsboro, Ga. on March 13, 1929.
As a young adult, he went north to New York to apprentice as a chef and eventually ended up working at the Hilton hotel in New York. But Dixon had a calling for the ministry.
His sister introduced him to Evelyn Stovall and they were married in June 1950.
In 1957, the family, which now included three children, came to California.
Dixon worked at the Beverly Hilton hotel as a chef and enrolled in Life Bible College in Los Angeles where he became an ordained minister.
In 1963, Dixon took over a Macedonia church in Val Verde that Bolden helped build.
He briefly left the Santa Clarita Valley to take over a church in Littlerock in the Antelope Valley, but he returned a year later.
In 1973, he was voted "Man of the Year" by the Chamber of Commerce.
Before his death, Dixon was a part of an advisory board intent upon representing the community's wishes in regard to land uses for Los Angeles County.
On April 15, 1974, he was coming home from one such meeting, driving along Highway 14. It is believed that he drifted off to sleep and crashed into a drainage ditch.
He died on April 27, 1974, at the age of 45, leaving behind a wife, three daughters and two sons.
"I just remember everywhere I went, whether we were doing the Chamber of Commerce ... he was in Kiwanis, I was (in) rotary, he was participating," Bolden said. "He was not just a bystander."
But Dixon's dream of a community health center continued after his death.
The Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation invested $70,000 to convert the annex of Dixon's church, which was under construction in 1980, into a health facility.
The health center, which he never lived to see, came to fruition in August 1980 and was operated by Henry Mayo and Santa Monica Hospital.
In February 1991, during the rededication ceremony, Evelyn Dixon — Samuel Dixon's widow — cut the ribbon on the Val Verde clinic.
In 1998, the clinic served 3,879 patients while in 1999 they served 4,035.
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