Sunday, April 22, 2012

Obituary Sunday - Dix Dewey, My Uncle

Pictured here is the older brother of my mother. I never knew him because he died long before I was born. But my mother, who had been very close with him, spoke often of him and I do not believe she ever got over his tragic death. At one time she had a small newspaper article in a scrapbook regarding his death. I remember seeing it when I was a child but somehow that article got lost. So, yesterday I decided to go to Elgin, where they lived, to look for the newspaper article at the Gail Borden Library. Since I had his date of death, it took no time at all to find the article on the microfilm containing the 1948 editions of the Elgin Daily Courier News. What surprised me when I found it was it was front page news. The article was quite lengthy and detailed. Located directly under the headline "Quakes, fire wreck Jap City" was an article "Elgin man drowned in quarry pool". I skimmed the article on the microfilm machine but was more interested in copying it rather than reading it. I wanted to read it alone at home. So I printed the front page article and it's continuation on page 3 as well as his actual obituary on page 2. Then I left to look at 3 homes my mother and her family lived in during her 30 years in Elgin. When I got home, I read the article and the obituary. My mother's memories were very accurate to the article, however, there were a few things in the article that I did not know. My uncle was an expert swimmer, this I knew but according to the article, at the time of his death, Dix and his friend were working on a clown diving act that was to be staged in Chicago the following month. A clown diving act?! I did not recall ever hearing that before! I also learned that emergency personnel had worked 2 hours to try to save the life of my uncle. Such valiant efforts which unfortunately, were in vain. Although there were several mentions of an "illness" and seizures, the name of that illness, epilepsy, was never mentioned. My mother had mentioned he was seen having a seizure and falling into the water and someone had tried to save him, the article mentioned the names and addresses of 4 people who had dived into the water to save him. Also in the article were 2 other things I did not know. Dix was "prominent in Masonic Lodge work, belonging to Elgin Lodge 117, A. F. & A. M. Bethel Commandery. 36 Knights Templar, Cryptic Council 46, R. & S. M. Royal L. Munn Chapter". I knew both his parents, my grandparents, were active in Masonic lodges but I never knew Dix was. I always had much compassion for this uncle I never knew. Mom told me many things about his life, most of which were tragic. Dix never married because of his Epilepsy. He left no descendants and all his siblings are now deceased. After reading this article, I have decided to tell his story in a future blog post. Perhaps there is no one alive that cares about his story since he left no descendants, however, mom cared deeply and his story deserves to be told. Perhaps this research will help me to know the uncle I never was able to know in life. This article gave me information I need to discover more of my uncle's story and I am aware of another newspaper article about the bus crash he survived, that left him with a severe head injury that mom believed also caused his Epilepsy. I will complete my research to learn more about Dix Darius Dewey Jr. and write my final story about the life of this uncle I never knew. Pictured here is Dix (far right) with his friends at the quarry where he lost his life on Sunday, June 27, 1948.

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