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Mary Kathryn Dixon

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Mary Kathryn Dixon Obituary
Mary Kathryn Dixon, 94, of Rosemont Mary Kathryn Dixon, 94, of Rosemont, died Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Neighborhood Hospice in West Chester from complications of a fall. Born in Grand Rapids, Mich., she was the daughter of Willis L. Dixon, M.D. (1890-1948), and Bessie Payne Dixon (1889-1979). A medical researcher for Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and the University of Pennsylvania, Dixon received her bachelor's (1941) and master's (1943) degrees from the University of Michigan. She had initially planned on becoming a nurse, but that dream was discouraged by her father, a physician, who told her that nurses emptied bedpans and were not respected. Dixon was a member of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Drexel Hill and served on its Altar Guild for more than 45 years. Inspired by an episode of pancreatitis in 1994 that was initially thought to be pancreatic cancer, she also worked for 15 years as a volunteer in the "Green Room" at the Bryn Mawr Hospital. "She promised God that, if she survived that, she would pay Him back," said her nephew, Mark E. Dixon of Wayne. Working in Cleveland in the 1950s, Dixon became part of the research team of Harold Samuel "Harry" Ginsberg, M.D. (1917-2003), a microbiologist who made early discoveries in virology and infectious disease (Wikipedia). She came to the University of Pennsylvania with Ginsberg in 1960 when he became head its school of microbiology. She lived in Drexel Hill until 2011, when she moved to Rosemont. While at Case Western, Dixon shared bylines with Ginsberg in at least two articles, "Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and Protein Alterations in HELA Cells Infected with Type 4 Adenovirus" (Journal of Experimental Medicine, April 1, 1959) and "Nucleic Acid Synthesis in Types 4 and 5 Adenovirus-Infected HELA Cells" (Feb. 1, 1961). In 1967, Ginsberg inscribed in her copy of Microbiology (Harper & Row, Hoeber Medical Division), a text he co-authored, "Your vital assistance and conscientious work was essential to my contribution to this text." Dixon declined Ginsberg's offer of a position at Columbia University when he transferred to that school in 1973. Instead, she continued at Penn, working at its dental school on research on tooth enamel and in other areas. She retired in 1989. "I once told her that lab rats must have trembled at the mention of her name," remarked her nephew. "She laughed, but did not disagree." Dixon had no patience for anti-vivisectionists, believing that experiments with animals were vital to medical research. Survivors: In addition to her nephew and his wife, Cynthia, Dixon is survived by another nephew, Jeffrey Dixon (Mary) of Ada, Mich., and a niece, Jane Elizabeth Moore (Michael) of Little Rock, Ark, and seven great-nieces and great-nephews. She is also survived by a sister-in-law, Ruth K. Dixon of Grand Rapids, Mich. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Willis L. Dixon, M.D. (1922-2008) of East Grand Rapids, Mich. "She was ready to go," said her nephew, who said his aunt thought too many people - including herself - were living too long. "She thought it would throw off demographic balance." Services: Relatives and friends are invited to her memorial service, 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Church of the Holy Comforter, 1000 Burmont Road, Drexel Hill, Pa. 19026. Interment: Will be private. Arrangements by: DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. of West Chester, Pa. 610-696-1181;

Published in The Daily Times on Sept. 17, 2013
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