Earnest L. Dixon, Legacy Leader (1941-1999)
Also known as a son, brother, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, guardian, banker, actor, entrepreneur, community leader, church member, humanitarian, mentor, friend, role model, and coach to many.
A man of many special talents and skills, Ernest L. Dixon, one of Atlanta’s native sons, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest L. Dixon, Sr. on December 5, 1941. Ernest grew up in the Southwest Section of Atlanta. He began his education at E. R. Carter Elementary School and completed his elementary education at Frank L. Staton Elementary School. Ernest attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia and spent several summers at Andover Prep School in Andover, Massachusetts. After finishing in the top ten percent (10%) of his class, Ernest went on to attend Ohio Wesleyan University in Columbus, Ohio, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. While at school, Ernest pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and was a tight end on the Ohio Wesleyan football team. It was at Ohio Wesleyan where he initiated his acting career.
Upon graduation, Ernest became a management trainee for Kroger while enrolled in graduate school for Business at Ohio State. While there, he meet and fell in love with Eleanor Garrett, and from this union, Shelley Elizabeth, was born. Ernest began his career in banking as a management trainee for Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. Ernest moved his family to Atlanta after receiving the position of first Black manager of C & S Bank. During his leisure time, Ernest became involved in sports car racing while still pursuing his stage and film career. It was at this time that his second daughter, Jessica Rhea, was born. Ernest worked with the co-founders of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, writing the first proposal and grant for securing funding for the Foundation. He was appointed the first Executive Director. Ernest’s desire for an independent professional career led to his entrepreneurial endeavors. He formed The Project Inc., and under its umbrella, two other companies, Housing Support Services and US Cable Communications, were born.
Ernest joined Atlanta Modeling & Talent which afforded him many outstanding roles in stage and screen. Of his many memorable performances, some of his favorite roles were in “Guys & Dolls,” “Richard III,”, “Julius Caesar,” “Freedom Road,” “John Henry,” “Seabo,” “The Catlin’s” Soap Opera, “ln the Heat of the Night,” “The Program,” “Perfect Crimes,” “Your Mama Wore Combat Boots,” and HBO’s “War Stories.” He also did numerous commercials and radio advertisements, his favorites being the football commercial for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, American Express Card, and the Purdue Chicken commercial.
Following in his mother’s footsteps, he nurtured his children to participate in all types of activities, such as ice skating, ballet, basketball, music, international travel, and art. Ernest was very supportive of their endeavors. During their youth, the children joined Mercury Track & Field Club, which led to his further interest in track & field. He joined the staff of Mercury and became a devoted coach and supporter. His devotion to track & field led to the formation of Quicksilver Track Club. Ernest had an immeasurable impact on the lives of young inner city children, aspiring to help them excel in education and track & field. Never too busy to lend a listening ear to the youth, he was a role model, mentor, confidante, friend, and, in some cases, a surrogate father. He knew the secret to nurturing young people. His program was more than just track & field – he established tutorial programs to assist young people to overcome academic obstacles. College Bound club members attended SAT instructional courses which led to hundreds of scholarships for young people based on their academic ability and athletic talent.
Among the long list of titles Ernest held within the track & field arena, the following are of special mention: United States Women’s Track Coaches Association; Technical Representative, AOC 1996; Chair USATF Convention Site Selection Committee; Competition Manager for Athletics, 1996 Atlanta Paralympics; Past President USATF/Georgia; Executive Vice Chair USATF National Youth Athletics Committee; and most recently, he was selected as Assistant Men’s Team Manager USATF 1998 IAAF World Cup Team. Quicksilver has a national reputation as one of the country’s premier track clubs. It was his dream to develop a world class track facility. Ernest never abandoned his dreams, and after ten years of hard work and perseverance and with financial assistance from NIKE his dream came into fruition – The Quicksilver Track, the only one of its kind (constructed out of recycled NIKE tennis shoes). Quicksilver athletes hold many national records in amateur track & field, and many have advanced to international and world-class status. Ernest’s latest endeavor in his favorite sport was serving as head track coach at Spelman College.
Ernest departed on May 24, 1999, leaving a global impact on the lives of all he touched. His legacy will continue to be passed through the hearts and effort of all who believed in his dream.