Roanoke Rapids minister dies in rubble in Haiti

Posted January 16, 2010 2:09 p.m. EST
Updated January 17, 2010 12:25 a.m. EST

— The Roanoke Rapids minister leading a humanitarian effort in Haiti died there Saturday, a spokesman for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church said.

The Rev. Sam Dixon and two others in leadership roles with the United Methodist Committee on Relief were at the Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince Tuesday when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the city Tuesday.

Reports that Dixon had been freed from the rubble safely Friday were incorrect, said Bill Norton, communications director of NCCUMC.

The Rev. Clinton Rabb, head of the United Methodist office of mission volunteers, and the Rev. James Gulley, a former missionary, along with other mission and relief specialists were evacuated from Haiti Friday, Norton said.

Rabb was in critical condition Saturday in a Florida hospital.

Family, friends and professional colleagues spent much of the week waiting and worrying after the quake knocked rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation. Hundreds of thousands of people were trapped in collapsed buildings. A death toll of 100,000 would "seem to be the minimum," Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told The Associated Press.

Gulley's son, Aaron, said that his father told him that Dixon and Rabb had been pinned by a concrete beam.

Dixon’s team was in Haiti to check on the church's missions and to work on expanding health ministries.

"My dad's a fighter. He's a stubborn man, and we all love him for it. He's going to do whatever it takes," his daughter, Christy, said before her father’s death was confirmed.

On Saturday, she said, "the best way anyone can honor his memory is by continuing the work her father started in Haiti.

Bishop Janice Huie of Texas, president of UMCOR, said that Dixon “was an extremely gifted minister of the Gospel. He lived his life following the commandments of Jesus to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and love the least of these – all over the world."

Dixon, a North Carolina native, was educated at the University of North Carolina and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He had been head of UMCOR since 2007.

He is survived by a wife, four children, two grandchildren, his mother and three sisters.

The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747. Also, the for people to locate friends and relatives in Haiti.