Our beautiful, wise, devoted and loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and dear friend, peacefully returned to her Heavenly Parents and Savior on the afternoon of July 9, 2020. She was surrounded in love by her five living children, Douglas, Lauren, Jeffrey, Lisa and David Brooks. She was joyfully reunited with Charlie, her sweetheart of 55 years, and her baby boy, Gregory Charles, who passed away during childbirth. What a sweet and tender mercy it is for those she has left behind to know that she faithfully endured to the end, and is now wrapped in the arms of those she loved and dearly missed.
Dixie was born on May 22, 1936 to Paul Hermann and Belva Erickson Gehring, in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was a long-awaited blessing for her parents, being born twelve years after the birth of her brother, Jay, who she lovingly called “Bubby”, and nine years after her sister, Gloria, who she often called “Glory”. Jay, who had hoped for a baby brother, exclaimed upon meeting her, “Gee, did you have to take the first one they showed you?!”
Dixie spent her childhood years in the Sugar House district of Salt Lake City. She was adored by everyone in the family, especially her dear father. Her Grandmother Erickson once asked her son-in-law, “What are you going to do, Paul, when she asks for the moon?” Her doting daddy replied, “Try to get it for her, I guess.” Five and a half years after her birth, her parents gave her a baby sister, Dana Kaye. Dixie denied ever being told that she would have a new sibling. So she did what any self-respecting little 5-year old would do - she packed some clothes in a brown paper bag and announced to the family she was leaving.
On December 7, 1941, Dixie’s world changed forever. With the advent of World War II, her brother Jay would enlist into the military a year later. She recalled a vivid memory of her mother fainting dead after walking through the front door of their home, having taken their only son to Fort Douglas, where he was loaded onto trucks with other 18 and 19 year old boys and driven away. At such a tender age, she began to take upon herself the worry and care of those around her. The war years were very defining for her, and for who she would become.
The summer after her fifth grade year, Dixie and her family moved forty-five miles south to the sleepy little college town of Provo. She went, as she described it, “kicking and screaming”. Life was very different in Provo, but in the seventh grade, she found her niche at BY High. There she made lifelong friends in the Sub Deb Club, sang “C’est Si Bon” to rapturous applause, and broke many a boy’s heart with her beauty and confidence. She was also a cheerleader with her best friends Gloria Unger Oaks and Carmen Brandley Hamilton, and gleefully recalled how she could do the splits, though not the Chinese kind. She absolutely loved her years at BY High, and described them as a “singularly, wonderful time.”
After high school, Dixie transitioned to Brigham Young University and enrolled in the School of Nursing. She had a plan for her life, and expected it to go in a well-ordered way. What she did not expect was to meet a young man from New York. She was introduced to him by his step-brother, who worked at the same hospital as Dixie. Charlie was different from anyone she had ever known or dated, and had a line that was well practiced (which she claims to have spotted right away). He was five and a half years older than she, a fact that did not escape her worried mother, who said: “That’s not a boy, that’s a man!” Though she tried to remain aloof, Dixie was attracted to his charm, sophistication and good looks. She told her friends that she would go with him until he really liked her, and then drop him. She never did.
Dixie and Charlie were married on July 13, in Provo, and thus began the phase of her life that was most important to her. The young couple soon welcomed their first son, Douglas Bruce. They were delighted with him! As with most young couples, they were poor in those days, but they had their baby and each other.
Dixie’s intent to return back to school was dashed after seeing her doctor for feeling “wasted”. A phone call the next day brought the news that a new baby would be joining the family ten months after the first. Randi Lauren was on her way. Along with her impending birth came one of the most treasured experiences of Dixie’s life. A month before Laurie was born, Dixie, Charlie and baby Douglas were sealed as an eternal family in the Salt Lake Temple. This new baby would be born under the new and everlasting covenant. Dixie felt at peace with her Heavenly Father.
This peace would carry her through one of the hardest experiences of her young life. Christmas night of 1959 found Dixie overcome with a feeling of sadness, and she began to cry uncontrollably. She had the distinct feeling that she was mourning, but for what? The following January, she delivered a beautiful baby boy, Gregory Charles. He never took a breath, having returned to his Heavenly Father sometime during the birthing process. Unable to find lasting comfort, Dixie turned to her Savior. She gratefully acknowledged in later years that this is where her real testimony of His gospel began. The death of her baby son taught her not just sympathy, but true empathy for others. In time, Dixie saw this sacred experience as a tender teaching moment from her Heavenly Father and His Son. She expressed that when she left this earth, that precious spirit would be the one she would be most anxious to see. We rejoice that she has now met the son she longed to hold, and can only begin to imagine her indescribable joy!
Jeffrey Scott joined the family 15 months later, in April 1961. His birth was an act of mercy from Father in Heaven. From the moment she found out she was pregnant, Dixie prayed that the Lord would help her and that the labor and delivery would not be as difficult as the previous ones had been. The Lord heard and answered her prayer. Of her six deliveries, Jeffrey’s was the easiest despite weighing in at a whopping 10 lbs., 5 oz. and 23 ½ inches long!
In the summer of 1963, and one day after Charlie’s birthday, Lisa Pauline was born. At 6 weeks old, Dixie took Lisa for a routine checkup, and while dressing her after the doctor’s examination, the entire office staff came into the room. One of the assistants exclaimed, “Dr. Smith said if we wanted to see an extraordinarily pretty baby, to come and see your baby girl.” Dixie and Charlie created beautiful babies, and everyone knew it.
May of 1967, exactly one week after Dixie’s thirty-first birthday, David Brooks, the baby of the bunch, joined the family. His labor was the longest and most strenuous, and Dixie was told by her doctor that he would be the last baby, and he was. Dixie and Charlie’s family was complete with four precious sons and two darling daughters.
A year after David’s birth, Charlie and Dixie bought a home in Orem, Utah, where they lived happily for fifty-plus years. They moved to the neighborhood on the suggestion of dear friends Sidney and Joy Gilbert. Sid and Joy were their next door neighbors in their previous home, and had gently and lovingly nurtured them in the gospel. Their influence on the young couple, and the enduring friendship they shared, would help lay the foundation on which Dixie and Charlie would build their family.
Dixie worked diligently to create a lovely home environment for her husband and children, and it was a haven where they made many precious memories. Both she and Charlie were big on traditions. She always subscribed to the old axiom, “If you make a child happy once, you make him happy many times hence, by the memory of it.”
Chief among these happy memories were the magical, “over the top” Christmas Eve gatherings! They are the stuff of legend in both the immediate and extended families. Wonderful experiences also include family cookouts, summer trips to the beach house on Balboa Island, picnics and fishing at Tibble Fork, Easter Egg hunts, personalized chocolate Valentine hearts, chili on Halloween (with Dixie as the Wicked Witch and Lauren in the role of Igor), playing Ghost in the Dark, attending Doug’s school plays, Lauren and Lisa’s recitals, Jeff’s basketball games and Dave’s band concerts. In short, her family has been the focus and the greatest joy of her life!
If Dixie thought life was good, it was nothing compared to the joy she felt as beloved in-law children joined the family through marriage. Then the grandchildren arrived, starting with Brian Richard Waite in 1981.
Nineteen grandchildren followed, culminating with Charles Brooks Edwards in 2015. Brian, Michael, Ashlee, Whitney, Courtney, Gregory, Alex, Jared, Erica, Jordan, Kristopher, Rachel, Rebecca, Shawn, Corey, Marin, Scott, Brett, Bradley and Charlie are the crowning jewels of her life, and she relished each one as they were born. She fully expected to love her grandchildren, but what she didn’t know, until she laid eyes on baby Brian, was that the love she felt was the very same love she had for each of her children. She loved each of them “best” and up until a few months ago, would still get down on her hands and knees to play cars with the youngest grandbaby (who was born shortly before her 80th birthday), and dutifully made Mac and Cheese when requested, which was often. Dixie absolutely adored being Grandma/Mimi!
Above all, Dixie cherished the gospel of Jesus Christ and her membership in His church. She loved her Heavenly Father and His Son with her whole heart and soul. She and Charlie faithfully served in many church callings throughout their years together, and particularly held sacred the nine years they served as ordinance workers in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. She loved being a temple worker, and tasted such great spiritual joy. She described it as the highlight of her church service. After Charlie’s death in 2011, her dear friend from high school, Carmen Hamilton, taught Dixie the ins and outs of family history work. She spent countless hours at the computer, preparing and submitting names for temple work so individuals can progress in the next life, and families can be sealed together forever. Dixie submitted tens of thousands of names for temple work, and there
is no doubt in her family’s mind that she is being sought out and thanked for her dedicated service to those beyond the veil.
Dixie was a gifted writer, and has left her family with words she wrote in poetic, short story, and life history form, often imparting sage advice and wise counsel with humor and good will. Her last words of wisdom to her precious ones are these:
“Life is hard, it was never meant to be easy.
Easy would teach no lessons and provide no tests.
Each of you will have rough spots. Endure them, learn from them, and overcome them. Don’t let them defeat you. My prayer for each of you
is that you can endure the hard tests and find much joy along the way.
Know that I love you. I am so grateful to have been your mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”
Dixie leaves to carry on her legacy of love and devoted service, her children Douglas and Lori Edwards, Lauren and Brian Waite, Jeffrey and Kathy Edwards, Lisa and Robert Carlson, and David and Sheri-Ann Edwards; 20 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren; her sister Dana Kaye Gehring Hayward, and many nieces and nephews she loved and cherished.
In tender and symbolic mercy, Dixie will be united in mortality once again with her beloved Charlie. She will be laid to rest next to him, and their baby son, in the Provo City Cemetery on Monday, July 13, 2020. It will be their 64th wedding anniversary. Per Dixie’s request, private funeral services will be held in the care of Walker Sanderson Funeral Home.
We love you Mom, and are thrilled you are reunited with Dad, Gregory Charles, your dear mother and daddy, big brother and sister, and many other family members!
Your faithful example as a deeply devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend will guide our lives until we meet again.