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Published: Thursday, 4/24/2003

Monroe High counselor was known for calm attitude

MONROE - Phillip Dixon, 55, a guidance counselor and teacher for 33 years in Monroe Public Schools, died of a heart attack Sunday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, Toledo.

He suffered the heart attack late Thursday in his LaSalle Township home, less than 12 hours before he and his wife were to leave for a week's vacation in Florida, his daughter, Sarah Lynch said. He had a heart attack two years ago.

Mr. Dixon began teaching at Monroe almost immediately after graduating from Indiana State University. He taught health and driver's education and worked toward his master's degree in counseling, which he received from Eastern Michigan University in 1977.

He became a counselor soon after that and most recently had a caseload of about 300 high school students.

“He was a very caring person, went out of his way to say `hi' to you, to seek you out, to meet you,” said Wayne Rumple, a Monroe High School math teacher. “And he just remembered people.”

Mr. Dixon was one of seven counselors at the school, where he led a program for pregnant teenagers and was known for his quiet ways even in the midst of stress.

“Sometimes I would go upstairs ready to rant and rave, and he would just provide a stabilizing, calming influence,” Principal Layne Hunt said.

His colleagues sometimes joked that he was so steady because he was from a small farming community in Indiana.

Mr. Dixon grew up in Remington. In college, he worked on the Indiana highways.

He married his high school sweetheart, the former Linda Hartsock. She was a registered nurse for years at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe and now works with their daughter in Cribs to Crayons daycare in their daughter's Lambertville home.

The couple enjoyed traveling. For decades, they spent Easter week on a Florida beach. They had toured the American West for three weeks each of the last two summers.

Mr. Dixon had gone on an annual fishing trip to Canada with three other men for decades and golfed two or three times a week. Years ago, he coached Monroe's junior varsity golf team.

Surviving are his wife, Linda; daughter, Sarah Lynch; son, Kirk; brother, Ralph, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in St. John Catholic Church, Monroe. The Rupp Funeral Home, Monroe, handled arrangements. The family requests tributes to the church or the American Heart Association.

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