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Southern Utah News Front Page: March 14, 2019
Dixie Brunner receives Womanhood Award at Kanab Women''s Forum
Dixie Brunner (l) receives flowers and the Womanhood Award from Kanab Women’s Forum board members Andrea Gilberg (c) and Deb Jones (r). Photo by Larry Sorensen.
We are excited to announce the 2019 Womanhood Award recipient; one who exemplifies courage as a wife, mother, journalist and friend. She stands up for what she believes in and remains fair in her coverage of local, state and nationwide events. With honor, we would like to present Dixie Brunner with this year’s Womanhood Award.
Dixie was born in southwestern Illinois, out in the country between the towns of Hillview and White Hall. Her parents operated an apple orchard and raised pigs near the bluffs of the Mississippi River. She was a tomboy who was always riding her horse named Shadow. She was the youngest of five children. Dixie was only nine years old when her father passed away. When it was just down to her and her mother Ruthie, the farm became too much, and the two moved to Springfield, Illinois. Dixie started high school there. Two years later, they moved to Middleton, Wisconsin, to be near Dixie’s older brother, Bryan. That’s where she met Dennis on a blind date. They were married on August 28, 1976. Whenever Dixie tells someone how long they have been married, she adds, “But I was only 10 when we got married,” when she sees someone adding up how old she must be now.
Twenty-six years ago, Dixie and her husband Dennis moved their family to Kanab from Stoughton, Wisconsin. Dixie is the mother of five boys, one who passed away after spending his only 11 months of life in the hospital. She, along with many others who have been through such tragedy, is the definition of a woman of courage! A few years after the death of their son, their third son developed asthma and his doctor said the best remedy would be to move somewhere in the southwest. It would be a hard decision, because most of their family lived in Wisconsin, but one that they had to make.
In Wisconsin, Dennis was part owner of a lumber company and on a trip to a lumber convention in Las Vegas, they decided to stop in Kanab and find out about a newspaper business that was for sale. They purchased the paper, the Southern Utah News, from Marlin Brown. Talk about a leap of faith and courage! The Brunners then returned to Stoughton, sold their house, loaded up their Conestoga wagon, (AKA U-Haul truck) and headed west, not unlike pioneers from an earlier time. (Well, maybe a tad bit easier, but still courageous!) Just within a couple of weeks, they made the move, bought a home in the Ranchos, and settled their family in Kanab.
Dixie had written a humor column for the local paper, the Stoughton Courier Hub, for several years, as well as travel articles for other newspapers. But being the editor is a whole different ballgame. Over the years, Dixie has covered many big stories – one being the announcement of the formation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. She fought her way into the press conference to be with national media from all over the country.
Some years ago, a group of people started their own newspaper to get out the real story (the one they wanted to publish, with no feedback or opinions from those opposed to them). Dixie did not waiver, even after taking a lot of grief. She courageously held her ground, and within a few months, the other paper folded.
Dixie has won numerous awards from the Utah Press Association for her writing skills. She has served on the UPA Board of Directors for many years, including one year as the president of the organization in 1999. At the time, she was one of only five women to hold that position in the State of Utah over the last 100+ years. The Society of Professional Journalists, an organization from Salt Lake City, also presented Dixie with a “Courage in the Face of Fire Award.” It was a well-earned award!
Dixie’s four sons all graduated from college and have respectable jobs, with three of them following in her footsteps in media. In fact, her oldest son, Jeremy, produces the Utah Jazz basketball games for national TV. Rory and Cody do editorial work for the online giant Yahoo, while Kyle works for Sky West Airlines. She is an amazing example of having the “Courage to be You.” Individuality is important in this world and she most definitely portrays that with her style and grace.
Dixie, like Aristotle, believes that courage is the most important of all virtues, and she practices it every day at home and at her job.