Billy was born 86 years ago in Provo, Utah, to Raymond Virgil Dixon and Grace Price Dixon. Historians might like to know that Billy’s great grandparents were James William Nixon and Johanna Schultz Nixon, who were sent to St. George in 1866.
Billy grew up in Utah, Nevada and California. He graduated from Polytechnic High School in San Francisco. He received his Bachelor’s degree in History from San Francisco State University. He was working on his Master’s degree when he was called back into active service during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Billy always wanted to fly, so when the Air Corp started recruiting pilots in 1948, Billy enlisted. He received his wings in 1949 flying B-29’s. In Korea, he flew F-80 jets, was shot down, rescued, and received a Purple Heart.
He stayed in the Air Force and fought in Vietnam. At the time of his retirement, he had the most combat missions of anyone in active service. After Vietnam, he was selected to serve with Strategic Air Command and flew B52’s with atomic bombs aboard. This was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Billy received many medals and citations for his military service. He retired in 1975, but not from flying. He continued to own his own plane for 17 years.
In 1952, he married Evelyn Smith. They and their children traveled the world and saw many different and interesting places during their years in the Air Force. They were divorced in 1973.
In 1996, after his 50th high school reunion, Billy married his former high school sweetheart, Joyce Shotsberger. They settled in St. George where they lived for 15 years.
His love of flying was only exceeded by his love for his family. Billy is survived by his five children: Steven, Michael, William, Catherine, James, step-son Paul Shotsberger and nine grandchildren.
Billy had a great sense of humor and was always joking right until the end. One of his favorite sayings came for an old tombstone. It read, “He wondered, he wondered, he wondered, and …. now he knows.”
The family’s appreciation goes out to Dixie Regional Hospital, the staff and CNAs at Sterling Court, and Applegate Home Health and Hospice. They all went out of their way to make Billy and his family feel comfortable, loved and cared for.
Billy was fond of all animals, especially cats. Any memorial gifts should be made to the animal rescue mission at “One More Chance,” c/o Kris Neal, 2127 South 1400 East, St. George, UT 84790.
- Memorial services will be held Saturday, March 22, at noon at Sterling Court.
- A viewing will be held Saturday afternoon from 4-5 p.m. at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S. Bluff, St. George, UT.
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 435-673-2454. Friends and family are invited to sign Billy’s guestbook at www.spilsburymortuary.com.