Dixie Lee Arata
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January 7, 1925 ˜ August 29, 2020

Dixie L. Arata (Simmons) was born Jan. 7, 1925 in South Bend, WA to Gretchen K. Simmons and James “Gordon” Simmons. She attended grade school in Brooklyn and Raymond, WA, completing her last two years of high school in Shelton, WA.
Dixie attended business college in Salem, OR, then received her bachelor of arts degree from College of Puget Sound (The University of Puget Sound) in occupational therapy. She completed her fieldwork in tuberculosis, general medical & surgical and cerebral palsy in Honolulu, Oahu, HI; orthopedics & pediatrics at LA County General; and psychology at the Brentwood, CA VA Hospital. Later she completed her master of science in special education administration at Portland State University.
She worked in the VA hospital in Livermore, CA where she became a charter member of American Association of University Women.
She met Sil L. Arata in the TB unit, they married in 1954 in Vancouver, WA. They moved to Corvallis, OR while Sil attended Oregon State College (Oregon State University) where son Sil Jr. and daughter Susan were born.
Dixie was head of the O.T. Department at Morningside Hospital in Portland, and then worked for the Vancouver School District for 24 years. She divorced in 1973.
She served on too many boards, assemblies, and committees to name here.
Dixie is preceded in death by her father, mother and brother, Jim Simmons.
She is survived by her son, Sil L. Arata, Jr; daughter-in-law, Candy Arata; grandson, Nick and wife Erin Arata; her daughter, Sue Svendsen and son-in-law Bill Svendsen; grandchildren, Carl, Erik and wife Michelle, Brandis Svendsen, and Lacy and Jason Stoker. She had seven great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her ex-husband, Sil L. Arata of Philomath, OR.
This woman was an inspiration. Always a smile. Always a joke and a song.
For those who knew her, “That’s what he said” and “Mom’s on the roof.”
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Published in The Columbian on Sep. 13, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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4 entries
September 14, 2020
Dixie was legendary in the OT community. I first met her 20 years ago as a young student on a quilt project we did together for Pacific University. We had so much fun and I looked up to her and learned so much. She was also hilarious and so brilliant. I smile every time I think of her or pass her old house —which I always thought was very cool when I visited.
She made the yummiest monkey pull apart bread I still have the recipe for.
Dixie will forever be in my heart as a lady who embodied the true meaning of being an OT: resourceful, creative, engaging and a strong, kind person. I’m so lucky to have known her and to have followed in her shoes.
Joanna Blanchard
September 14, 2020
I first met Dixie when we were both cast in a play at "The Old Slocum House Theater" it was the summer/fall of 1992, the play was "A Scrap of Paper" both Dixie and I went on to become board members at the Slocum House. I remember many endeavors we were in together. There were several "parties" where several board members would gather to affix labels to the flyers for up-coming plays. On at least one of those occasions (but I am thinking several) Dixie hosted at her house on Evergreen Blvd. I remember bringing my 3 year old daughter (who I'd been pregnant with during Scrap of Paper) along and she loved hanging out with Dixie's beautiful, white, Persian cat. Dixie's sense of humor, hard working work ethic, wisdom and sense of fun were so very enjoyable. The last time I saw Dixie was in Bi-Mart, and it was probably at least 5 - 8 years ago. Often think about her and would try making contact but after she moved, her contact info changed and I never did find it again. My only excuse is getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living. My life was enriched from knowing Dixie...she always seemed closer to my age (even though she was a coupe years older than my mother-in-law and my parents) I loved her sense of humor!!!!
Marjorie Cavins
September 13, 2020
I knew Dixie for many years, first through VEA and then through many of the organizations we both belonged to. I am saddened to hear of her passing. She was a fun lady, always seeing the humor in any situation. May you find comfort in knowing she was loved by so many. Sending my peace and love to her family.
Linda Saunders
September 13, 2020
Sil: Very sorry to hear about your mom. I never had the pleasure of meeting her but she sounds like a very special lady. May God give you comfort at this time.
Lee Goodwin
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