Martha Dixon, former president of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation, passed away Dec. 16 at her home in Andalusia, Alabama at the age of 102. Martha and her husband, Solon Dixon, donated 80 acres of land and helped build the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center.
Martha was born in Covington County in 1915 and married Solon Dixon at Huntingdon College in 1976. Solon is a WWII veteran and retired employee of Alatex, an Andalusia-based manufacturing company, and was known as a pioneer of the state’s forestry industry.
The Dixons shared a sense of community and passion for education and the state’s natural resources. This passion fostered a lifelong philanthropic legacy which has benefited Auburn University and many other organizations within Alabama.
In 1976 the Dixon Family timber enterprise was sold, and the Dixons formed the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation to benefit forestry education, the arts, health organizations and among other charities.
As a 1926 Auburn graduate, Solon aspired to promote excellence in forestry education by providing students with a hands-on laboratory to develop and practice responsible forest management. The Dixons helped to achieve this vision with an initial monetary donation and an 80-acre gift of land to the University in 1978.
This land would later combine with another larger deed of property, the largest of its kind at the time of the gift, to create the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. The Andalusia facility is a 5,350-acre space for forestry and wildlife conservation education.
Martha took over as president of the foundation’s board of directors in 1986 following her husband’s death and remained president until she stepped down in 2001.
Martha continued her involvement in the foundation after she stepped down from her position until her passing. Martha was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Auburn University in 1991.
The Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center has been a cornerstone of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences educational program. Thousands of university students and natural resource managers from Alabama and across the country visit the center annually to learn best practices in forestry, wildlife and natural resources management.
The Dixon Center has grown over the last 40 years to include the 6,500-square-foot Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation Learning Center, which houses a state-of-the-art auditorium, classroom and conference room, two large bunkhouses, five semi-private dormitory buildings, a rec center, administrative building, classroom and computer lab building, maintenance shop and cafeteria.
Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Dean Janaki Alavalapati credits Martha’s leadership of the foundation for the success of the center.
“It is this unique educational asset that allows the school to excel in preparing resource managers,” said Alavalapati. “Martha was instrumental in fulfilling Solon’s wishes and we are very grateful she was able to see the many generations of students graduate from Auburn with the knowledge and skills necessary to become leaders in their field.”
Martha was preceded in death by her parents, Fannie Brewer Belvin and Robert L Belvin; her sister, Allie Dunn; and her husband, Solon Dixon. She is survived by her extended family and many devoted friends within the community of Andalusia, Alabama.