Slain FBI agent Dixon’s legacy lives on in Pittsburgh Field Office, 10K race fundraiser
Every year for the past 20 years, Paul Dixon and his family have gathered on Nov. 22 to remember Martha Dixon, his sister and an FBI special agent originally from Mt. Lebanon who was killed while stopping a gunman.
“It’s a bitter memory to bring back up, and it’s tough doing this on a regular basis,” said Dixon, a Bethel Park councilman. “The way we live with it is we remember her for how she lived, rather than how we lost her.”
Family members plan to commemorate the anniversary of the shooting Friday at a memorial in Washington, where Dixon, a second agent, a police sergeant and the gunman all were killed 20 years ago this Saturday. Since then, they have worked to remember her athleticism and love of children by putting her name to causes she would have supported while alive.
Her legacy lives on: The FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office was named for Dixon when it opened in 2001; an annual 10K race has raised almost $150,000 for a foundation in her name; and playgrounds and athletic fields across Western Pennsylvania have been built or rehabilitated with her foundation’s funding.
On Nov. 22, 1994, a gunman entered the Washington Metropolitan Police Headquarters, made his way to the third-floor offices of the joint police/FBI Cold Case Homicide Task Force and started shooting.
Police Sgt. Hank Daily and FBI Special Agent Mike Miller were killed, and Brookline native and FBI Special Agent John Kuchta was critically wounded before Dixon ran from another part of the office to open fire on the gunman, who returned fire. Both were slain.
Every year for the past 18 years, Mt. Lebanon has hosted Martha’s Run on the second Saturday of April to raise money for the foundation. The Martha Fund has built or rehabilitated 18 playgrounds, with the first in Mt. Lebanon and others in Beltzhoover, Heidelberg, Cranberry and Pleasant Hills. An athletic field in Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park is named for the Mt. Lebanon High School graduate as well.
“The whole family’s involved in the race,” Paul Dixon said. “Even Martha’s got a part in it: She’s in charge of the weather.”
He said the race is popular because it usually occurs shortly before the Pittsburgh Marathon and many marathon runners sign up for the 10K as a warmup.
“I was not fortunate enough to know Martha personally, but in speaking with members of her family here in Pittsburgh, I have learned a great deal about her life and contributions to the bureau,” Scott S. Smith, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh Field Office, said in a statement.
“We are honored that the Pittsburgh Field Office bears her name. It serves as an inspiration to all of us who work here.”
Special Agent Gregory Heeb, spokesman for the Pittsburgh office, said he did not know whether any local agents would attend Friday’s service in Washington, but noted that annual ceremonies are held in the building’s atrium to honor both Dixon and Special Agent Samuel Hicks, who was killed during a drug raid in 2008.
Friday’s memorial service is at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].