I am an Elk - Meet Diana Dixon
Lyons, Kansas is almost in the geographical center of the United States, though that honor belongs to the town of Lebanon, just a short drive away. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado almost made it to Lyons on his quest to find the fabled golden province of Quivira. Later, Juan de Padilla, a member of Coronado’s expedition would become the first Christian martyr in North America, just west of Lyons. Lyons is not large, with a population of around 3,600. The city almost became known for being a repository for nuclear waste to be stored in the salt mines just southeast of the town. One would think nothing remarkable could come from Lyons. That is until one learns that this is where Karen Pierce and Ralph Dixon had their daughter, Diana Marie.
Diana grew up with two young half-sisters and a younger half-brother. Ralph drove trucks to support the family while Karen worked various jobs, settling in at Sharpline in the Wichita, KS area. Growing up, Diana’s family was extremely close with both sets of grandparents. Their extended family is large, with one grandmother being one of thirteen children and Karen being one of eight. Diana described her mother’s parents, Dennis and Eleanor Fiedler as, “...very Catholic. I had two uncles that were priests. One aunt is a nun.”
The family moved to Great Bend, KS, just to the west of Lyons along Highway 56, where she would attend St. Patrick’s Catholic School from kindergarten through sixth grade. She played basketball while in grade school – she was taller than most other girls her age. Seventh through ninth grades were at Ulysses, KS where she continued to play basketball and became a cheerleader. Eventually, she had the decision to make. To continue to play sports, she would have to have surgery for a knee condition or quit sports. Facing the consequences of life-long pain from the surgery, she opted to stop playing basketball.
High school found Diana at Goddard High School in Wichita, KS where she would graduate. “I started my partying phase early,” she says of her high school years, “I knew I wasn’t going to college. I wasn’t ready.” Throughout high school, Diana worked for Green Chem Lawn as an administrative assistant. When she was a Junior in high school, she would meet and fall in love with a member of the United States Air Force. The couple married in November following her high school graduation.
Diana continued to work for Green Chem Lawn after she married but soon decided that she wanted to work in the medical field, so she went to a local technical college to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and began working for Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in the surgical intensive care unit. For a couple of years, the Air Force would keep them in Wichita and then transfer them to Las Vegas, Nevada, where Diana would begin to flourish.
The Air Force had transferred them to Nellis Air Force Base. While waiting for her CNA certification to transfer to Nevada, Diana began working for a home health service. While she was caring for a patient, she met Joyce and David Scheinman, who owned L’chaim Real Estate. They hit it off and she went to work as an agent. “They were true New Yorkers,” Diana says about her former employers, “They started the Jewish Center in Vegas.” The couple helped Diana obtain her real estate licensure and become a realtor.
Diana loved living in Las Vegas. “You got every concert. It was great!” Diana remembers attending concerts for System of a Down, Pearl Jam, and seeing Toby Keith twice. “Shopping and your choices of food was amazing. When you live in Vegas, everyone comes to visit.” But it was not just shopping and food she enjoyed. With Lake Meade just miles away, she would often spend time on the water with a jet ski.
In 2005, the Air Force again transferred the couple to Keesler Air Force Base, and Diana came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was following Hurricane Katrina and base housing was not available. So, over the next couple of years, she spent time moving around from Gulf Park Estates in the Ocean Springs, MS area, to Gulfport and then to base housing at Keesler. She continued to work for the Scheinmans as a lead generator for a couple of years. She would later separate and divorce with decisions to make on whether to stay, return to Las Vegas or go back to Kansas.
One evening, she went out with her friend Jennifer to the Watering Hole in Gautier, MS where she would meet Joe Parisi and Chad Brownlow. Eventually, the four would become a group and have a regular group table at the bar. Her friendship with Chad turned into love and the two would later welcome their son, Landon into the world. She returned to Kansas for a couple of years. But she was eventually persuaded to come back to Mississippi and settle in Gautier where she has been for over a decade. In October 2012, Diana went to work for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in the Inventory Control division, where she remains today. After having dated for a couple of years, Diana and Chad became engaged. But after nearly fourteen years together the couple recently went their separate ways.
Since her return to Mississippi, her love of Landon has led to her interest in serving the greater good. She volunteered with the Parent Teacher Organization at Gautier Elementary. She was a member of the Gautier Baseball Board as the IT and Special Relations coordinator for five years. She is truly a soccer mama now and follows Landon on his travel team excursions. She also enjoys attending carnival balls in the area and has served as a hostess for the Pascagoula Elks Carnival ball several times.
She had been to the Pascagoula Elks Lodge several times over the years for steak night. Her fiancé had been a member at the time, as had many of her friends, including Joe Parisi who was Exalted Ruler when she was sponsored with Marc and Becky Turner acting as her references. She started helping Muriel Bayens serve during steak nights, eventually becoming more comfortable in the Lodge. Seeing a need for more things for children, she held bake sales and raised money for the swing set and a basketball goal that is near the pool area. She has become part of the House Committee, acting as the committee secretary. She volunteers with the Kitchen Committee and has also become the unofficial annual Christmas Party coordinator. At the April 1, 2023, Lodge Officer Installation, outgoing Past Exalted Ruled Ed Neuman presented Dixon with the Lodge's Fidelity Award.
In April 2023, Diana traveled to Rolling Fork, Mississippi to participate with the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 Disaster Relief team. The team of fourteen spent three days in coordination with the Cajun Navy Ground Force cooking for the victims of the tornadoes that had recently ravaged the area, preparing, and serving 2,775 meals. “Just seeing the giving back to the community, the camaraderie,” she looks thoughtful as she explains why she enjoys being a member of the Lodge.
One thing that she prides herself on at the Lodge though, is being the sole Oklahoma Sooners fan. While she has been to the campus and has seen the stadium, she has never been to a Sooners game. She cannot wait to go to a game now that Oklahoma is in the South Eastern Conference and she can join the boasting game with the other SEC fans at the Lodge. “I get to give it back to the guys who gave the crap to me,” she laughs.
Diana lives in Gautier with her son Landon.