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January 16, 2019

12/19/2018 12:47:00 PM
DIXIE LOUISE OTIS
DIXIE LOUISE OTIS
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DIXIE LOUISE OTIS

Dixie was raised in La Conner and graduated from La Conner High School in 1959. She attended the University of Washington, graduated from Western Washington University. After graduation, she taught elementary school at La Conner for her entire career.
Dixie married Douglas Otis over 50 years ago, with her entire second grade class as front-row guests of honor. Dixie became a caring stepmother to Cindy Moore, Chris Ceradsky, and Scott Otis and step-grandmother to their children.
Dixie was an exceptional mother to her children, Don Jay “D.J.” Otis, Megan Otis Masonholder, and Andrew Otis. D.J.’s death in 1993 was a defining event in her life. As she grieved, she devoted her time to helping others, returned to work with children, and actively supported others suffering through their own tragedies. Dixie resolutely believed she would be reunited with her son, and her family is comforted by her faith. Dixie was proud of the parents her children have become and was confident that Andy’s wife, Kelli, and Megan’s husband, Brian, would take good care of her family. Dixie delighted in building special, individual bonds and creating lasting memories with her grandchildren, Landen Otis, Jaydon Otis, Kaleb Otis, Brogan Masonholder, and Maya Masonholder, who replenished her joy for life.
After a 30-year career as a teacher, retirement did not suit Dixie, so she returned to work for nearly another 20 years as a teacher’s aide, lunchroom lady, and study hall teacher for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Imagine the countless words she patiently pointed to, waiting for a child to sound out the letters or answer a question. Dixie also kept her caring, eagle-eye trained on the students in need, poised to act, which is why she enjoyed her time in the lunch room so she could see each child every day. She called herself the “Resident Grandma” and was proud when she was mistaken as the grandmother of her Swinomish students. Dixie also helped many at risk seniors get across that finish line, diploma in hand. One of her favorite ways to help students was to write letters of reference, which allowed her students to truly believe in their own potential.
A devoted LC Brave, Dixie held many unofficial study halls at her kitchen table, helping student athletes remain eligible to play (especially the baseball players). Dixie watched countless innings of baseball in this valley, and in her early teaching days, class would stop and the radio would be turned on to listen to the State Basketball Tournament games. Dixie liked to tell young La Conner athletes she remembered watching Landy James play for La Conner (LC’s gymnasium is named after him) and spoke glowingly of her teacher, Jack Whitaker (LC’s football field is named after him). Dixie often remarked if there was a ball game to get to and the house caught fire, she would let it burn. Although Dixie enjoyed a good win, it was all about supporting the kids she loved.
Dixie had several special friendships that spanned her lifetime, and many that lasted five or six decades. It is an impossible task to acknowledge all of the friends she considered family, but she treasured her “Bonco Babes,” a group of women who shared a monthly Monday night dice game for nearly 50 years and supported one another through all of life’s joys and sorrows; adventured with pals in Hawaii, taking her first plane ride at age 60 to swim in a warm ocean with the turtles; and joined a community of friendship with her Soroptimist ladies. Dixie enjoyed making her friends laugh with her clever, wry sense of humor, having unapologetically opinionated conversations, and being a bold and outspoken advocate. She also really delighted in being right on absolutely any topic.
Dixie was also very proud of and grateful for her bonds with members of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Of those tribal members, Dixie was especially bonded to Mike Cladoosby, whose friendship grew over thousands of daily check-in phone calls to the point where they were fixtures in each other’s daily lives. The bonds with all of her friends in the tribal community were rooted deeply in her spirituality and sense of community.
Dixie’s community involvement was vast. Her fingerprints were left on many charities, large and small, formal and informal. Dixie was a Sunday school teacher for years at the La Conner Methodist Church, participated in Delta Kappa Gamma, served on the board of the Skagit Historical Museum, helped regularly with the Pioneer Picnic, and most recently championed the La Conner Soroptimists. Dixie liked to do things quietly and anonymously. When she saw a need, she acted.
The peacefulness of Dixie’s passing should bring comfort. Dixie’s life is an example of how a lifetime of small, kind deeds creates an abundance of respect and love. Dixie’s life was well-lived and she was well-loved.
Dixie was laid to rest on Saturday, December 15, 2018, in a private graveside service with a community memorial service that followed at 1:00 p.m. at Maple Hall, 104 Commercial St., La Conner, WA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Soroptimist International of La Conner. Arrangements were under the care of Kern Funeral Home, and the family thanks Connie and Jeremiah LeSourd for the care and comfort they have provided.
Please share your condolences and memories of Dixie online at www.kernfuneralhome.com.







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