The oldest female Veteran, the high-spirited, fun-loving, amazing local celebrity, Ms. Alyce Dixon, died peacefully in her sleep at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Community Living Center. She was 108 years old.
She is well-known in the community for her elegant sense of style, her long repertoire of eyebrow-raising jokes and very strong opinions. She credits her long life to sharing and caring.
“I always shared what little I have, that’s why He let me live so long. I just believe in sharing and giving. If you have a little bit of something and someone else needs it, share,” she said.
Ms. Dixon was born in 1907, when an American’s average life expectancy was only 47 years. She was born Alice Ellis in Boston. At the age of 16, she changed the spelling of her name to Alyce after seeing a picture show starring actress Alyce Mills. She lived life on her own terms from that day forward.
She was married for a time, but divorced her husband over an $18 grocery bill. He found out she was sending money home to her family and put her on a strict allowance. This didn’t sit well for the independent young woman.
“I found myself a job, an apartment and a roommate. I didn’t need him or his money,” she said.
She later joined the military in 1943. She was among one of the first African-American women in the Army. As a member of the Women’s Army Corps, she was stationed in England and France where she played an important role in the postal service as part of the 6888th Battalion.
After leaving the Army, she served the government for many years at the Census Bureau and for the Pentagon where she served as a purchasing agent, buying everything from pencils to airplanes. She retired from government service in 1973.