DALLAS — Chattanooga native Robert E. “Bob” Dixon, who pioneered Southern Baptist disaster relief ministry more than 50 years ago — seeing DR deployments as “invitations from the Father” — died May 10 at age 90.
Dixon was baptized at age 10 at Avondale Baptist Church in Chattanooga and was ordained into the ministry there in 1959. As a layman, Dixon worked with youth while still sensing a call to the ministry. In 1957, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife Jean and their two daughters to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was hired at College Avenue Baptist Church as youth director.
Dixon went on to serve in church recreation and youth ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., First Baptist Church in Nashville, and First Baptist Church in Memphis before he was invited in 1966 to become the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ director for the Royal Ambassadors missions program for boys. Three years later, he became Texas Baptist Men executive director.
Dixon fashioned homemade “buddy burners” from gallon-sized coffee cans when, in the wake of Hurricane Beulah in 1967, he was dispatched to the Rio Grande Valley from a Royal Ambassadors boys camp.
His task: to do what he could to coordinate volunteers who would use the one-pot buddy burners to prepare breakfast for truck drivers delivering food and clothing to storm survivors.
Dixon’s initiative sparked Southern Baptists’ national disaster relief ministry, with DR volunteers and equipment in all 50 states who deploy for hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief now encompasses 70,000 trained volunteers — including chaplains — and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chain saw, mud-out, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, communication and power generation