BAYSIDE WEST — Ann Dixon never married, but there was one undying love in her life: the New York Yankees.
When she lived in New York City, she attended games at Yankee Stadium so often that all the players knew her, Miss Dixon's family said. She vacationed in Tampa every year so she could attend every spring training game. When she retired, the Yankees were one reason she chose to make Tampa her home.
She stuffed her home with Yankees paraphernalia including autographed balls and photos of her standing next to her favorite player, Derek Jeter.
In her mid 80s, she still attended every Yankees game at George M. Steinbrenner Field and Tropicana Field.
"She even had pillowcases and sheets that were New York Yankees' things," said Fran Dixon, the wife of Miss Dixon's nephew. "She was at every game up until last year. After she broke her femur, she couldn't go anymore. If it wasn't for that she'd be chasing the players, and they'd be chasing her because she had a lot of energy. She knew all of them, and they all knew her."
Miss Dixon passed away May 30 from congestive heart failure. She was 88.
Her passion for the Yankees ran deep, but it was far from all-consuming. On her list of priorities, she kept baseball far behind family and her two remarkable and disparate careers.
Born in Kentucky, Miss Dixon moved here with her family when she was 4 years old. Her father was Paul Dixon, who became a prominent Tampa lawyer.
She started taking dance lessons as a young girl. By the time she was 14, she had opened her own studio, the Ann Dixon School of Dance, on Kennedy Boulevard across from the University of Tampa. There, she taught kids not much younger than herself.
After she graduated from Plant High School, she took off for New York City to pursue a dance career. Despite her slight stature — she was only 4 feet 10 — she built a successful career in ballet, cabaret and theater, and even danced in at least one Broadway show. She opened her second school, the Dancing and Creative Dramatics School, in New York while she was still a young woman, her family said.
By the time she was 49 she decided she had had enough of the dance world. She wanted to try something else and applied for any jobs a former dancer might be able to land.
"She walked into IBM and got an entry level position," Fran Dixon said. "She progressed to be a trained programmer and eventually she independently tested new programs for IBM."
The computer industry couldn't have been further removed from the dance world, but Miss Dixon thrived at IBM until she retired in 1986.
Once her career was over, Tampa beckoned. Her family — which by now consisted only of nieces and nephews and their children — lived here. And, of course, her beloved Yankees trained in the city.
For the nonbaseball months of the year, Miss Dixon kept busy researching and collecting artifacts from Dixon family history. She related family stories from past years, and even recounted stories from past generations that had been handed down to her. As family members passed away, she acquired their belongings and gave them to other family members, to make sure they stayed in the Dixon clan.
"That's what she said her legacy to us was," said her nephew, William Ken Dixon. "It was to make us aware of who she was and who we were, and of the importance of family. She collected and shared the artifacts and this lore and passed it along to us so that we could pass it along to our own children."