By Katie Eubanks
Maggie Wade Dixon and André Dixon
The couple that laughs together
Maggie Wade Dixon drives more carefully now.
But there was an incident when the veteran news anchor made contact with a few mailboxes while tearing through the neighborhood in her husband’s Chevy Tahoe.
Here’s the story:
“We had went out to dinner, and it didn’t sit well with her, I guess,” says André Dixon. “And she was trying to get home to the bathroom in a hurry. … She hit about three mailboxes in the neighborhood.”
“I didn’t hit them, they just slid … ” Maggie starts.
“OK, how a mailbox slide into the truck?”
(A brief discussion of the technicalities follows.)
“Oh, what’s it called? You didn’t hit them, you just sideswiped them,” André says. “She SIDESWIPED several mailboxes coming through the neighborhood.”
“I don’t think our neighbors know this,” Maggie says, unfazed. “Any other funny stories about me?”
*Editor’s note: No mailboxes were harmed in the making of this anecdote. Unfortunately, the custom paint job on André’s Tahoe was.
A BBQ bonfire and Great Value cinnamon
The laughs don’t stop for long as Maggie and André, who will celebrate their 28th anniversary this month, sit in their dining room and share memories.
Their first date foretold a lot about their future.
“We went to the grocery store. And I drove him crazy,” Maggie recalls. “He said, ‘You don’t look at labels, you don’t look at prices …’ What else did you tell me?”
“That you buy a lot of junk,” André says in a quiet deadpan.
The Navy veteran and the TV journalist got to know each other at WLBT, Jackson’s NBC affiliate, where André – a former communications specialist in the Navy — was a satellite coordinator.
“He always gave me a hard time,” Maggie says. And that hasn’t stopped, though he mostly does it in private and isn’t a “talker” when it comes to interviews. But Maggie prods him enough during this one to get the goods.
On their second date, Maggie barbecued.
“I drove up (to her house) and I saw this blaring flame from the street, like a barn-fire flame,” André says. “I got there and she had one of those little patio grills, the woman grill, with like 200 pounds of charcoal under it. The flame was almost to the top of the house. It was like 300 pounds of charcoal.”
“You said 200 first,” Maggie corrects him.
“Two or three hundred.”
The Dixons also banter about the way Maggie does laundry — she claims she merely rinses each load more than once, while he says she washes each load multiple times — and the way she shops.
“I don’t shop a lot,” Maggie says. (André lets out a grunt in disagreement.) “I buy everything on sale.”
“Did you hear her?” André says. “She said she buys everything on sale. So if this (whole) rack is on sale, that’s the excuse for you to come home with it. ‘I got this for Adilynn (our granddaughter). It was on sale.’ Well, could you let someone else get some?”
“If I left it up to you, I’d never buy anything except Great Value (brand),” Maggie says. “He loves Great Value: cereal, almond milk, honey — and then he came home with Great Value cinnamon. McCormick cinnamon is darker.”
Asked if he’s done a blind taste test to determine which brand is better, André says he has. He also claims he snuck generic fabric sheets into Maggie’s laundry and she couldn’t tell the difference.
The McCormick/Great Value debate was ongoing at press time.
They joke a lot, but Maggie and André are serious when it comes to their marriage, their kids and their faith.
For one thing, André has never been intimidated by Maggie’s success as “Maggie Wade, WLBT.”
“(And) what really touched my heart was how he was with my daughter (Kim),” she says.
What stands out for André is Maggie’s kind and easygoing nature. “In 28 years, I’ve never heard her curse. Not at me. You don’t find women like that nowadays.
“Her concentration (in her reporting) has always been children, kids and families. She’s always trying to better someone’s life. You would think with her success, even back then, that she would have that air (of pride). (But she was like) ‘This is just my job.’ People see her as just a person.”
“I’ve always said ‘ego’ stands for ‘edging God out,’” Maggie says. “If what you’re doing is not about God and not glorifying Him, then it’s not worth it.”
Maggie and André got married on Feb. 16, 1991 — right in the middle of a ratings month. They took no honeymoon.
Instead, on their wedding night, André made Maggie cut up all but two of her credit cards.
“He said, ‘You’re wasteful.’ He was like a military sergeant. ‘If you want God to bless us, we’ve got to be good stewards.’”
But she carries no resentment: Though André’s frugal ways drive her crazy sometimes, she loves him for it. And now that the kids are grown, the Dixons hope to travel more. In fact, they are planning a romantic getaway for just the two of them.
A united front on the home front
Maggie and André’s children, Kim and Jeremy, certainly helped them grow closer to God. Any parent knows what that means.
“When Jeremy was born, I think he was two days old, I got this phone call saying he had jaundice. But all I heard was something about his liver,” Maggie says.
Hysterical, she called André, who came to the hospital and immediately went to the chapel to pray. Meanwhile, people at the hospital kept congratulating Maggie on the birth of her son while she was falling apart.
Then André found out it was only jaundice, which is not uncommon among newborns and is easily treated.
“He was like, ‘Really?!’ They sent like 10 doctors and nurses in to explain it to me,” Maggie says.
There are plenty of other stories — like the time André put generic cereal in a Frosted Flakes box and the kids figured it out.
“He overheard them talking about it. He said, ‘They’re plotting,’” she says. “They knew it wasn’t real (Frosted Flakes).”
Despite his refusal to buy name-brand groceries, André successfully took on duties that not every man would relish. With Maggie’s work schedule, he was the one who cooked, cleaned and ensured the kids did their homework.
“When we first got married, I knew how much she worked. I knew what my role was,” André says. “I had to do that for her, in order for her to be successful.”
More importantly, he is there for Maggie when she has to report a difficult story: “Like recently, the two babies that were shot on State Street, he sent me a text message saying, ‘God is able. He’s in control. I’m praying for you,’” she says.
And when she works late, he doesn’t complain. He waits on her. Sometimes they’ve stayed up together and made breakfast.
The Dixons raised their kids in church and kept a united front as parents. They told Kim and Jeremy, “If you get in trouble, don’t waste your first call on us.”
André was more of a disciplinarian, though. One night, Jeremy missed his curfew and was sneaking into the house. He wasn’t sneaky enough.
“And (André) was like, ‘Stay in the bedroom, turn the TV up, (and) no matter what you hear, don’t come out,’” Maggie recalls.
“And when (Jeremy) came in (in the dark), André pinned him against the wall: ‘Who is this?!’ And he was like, ‘Dad, Dad, it’s me!’ And (André) was like, ‘No, it can’t be my son. Strangers tip(toe) in houses. My son can come in anytime. You’re acting like a stranger, I’m gonna treat you like one. If you’re going to be late, call.’”
André preferred to let the kids deal with the consequences of their actions. Maggie would help them out with those consequences, but then lecture them.
“I wanted my perfect angels. I think they found (André) to be more understanding, because I’d be devastated: ‘I can’t believe you lied to me.’ Then (André) gives me one of those looks like, ‘Really?’”
On the other hand, Maggie has taught André patience.
“In the military, you tend to want to deal with people … the way you deal with people in the military,” André says. “Very direct. She’s taught me to be like, ‘OK, let me go home and pray about this.’
“I’m a little calmer now (in) my temper and my temperament. … I think she did that with prayer too.”
“Lots of prayer,” Maggie says. “Lots of prayer.”
André says Maggie has also helped him in his “dealing with people, I think, as far as … “
“Being more accepting,” she offers.
“Being a little more accepting to some people. Not too many people,” he deadpans again.
Prayer, tragedy and faith
The longer you talk with the Dixons, the more times prayer comes up. It’s the thread that runs through their lives, from figuring out finances to resolving arguments.
“We’re not perfect by any means,” Maggie says.
“But we know how to pray through our imperfections,” André says. “We do that.”
During 9/11, Maggie and Jeremy were stuck in Washington D.C.
“(André) was so calm,” she says. “I was like, I’m trying to get out of here, I’ve got my 10-year-old son with me. But André said, ‘I knew you were at the White House, and that was the safest place to be.’ And he also said, ‘Where’s your faith? God’s gonna get you home.’”
(Maggie and Jeremy wound up catching a car ride home with another news anchor.)
“Things in this real world, what’s going on in people’s lives, I get up in the morning and pray (about it),” André says.
“When you see success in your life and you didn’t have people helping you, you know that was prayer – you become steadfast (in prayer),” he says.
“And I get answers.
“And it doesn’t take a Republican or Democrat or Independent to deliver it to me. I have a direct line to God.”
Speaking of political parties: “It makes me sad that we’ve let our differences (as a country) divide us,” Maggie says. “We try not to let our differences divide us (as a couple).”
“PRAYER,” André adds — just in case you were still unsure how they do it.
A particularly tough example is when a little girl who’d been featured on WLBT’s “Wednesday’s Child” program died at only 6 years old.
On “Wednesday’s Child,” Maggie would spotlight a child in need of a good home. This particular girl was 5 when she was on the show, and after getting adopted, she fell off a set of monkey bars and hit her neck. The fall was fatal.
“It was so devastating. I told (André) I didn’t want to do ‘Wednesday’s Child’ anymore. I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. And I got so mad at him — I mean, I was livid — because he was backing up and (just) looking at me like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ He wasn’t comforting me.
“And finally he said, ‘Let me get this straight: The whole time I ’ve known you and you’ve been doing “Wednesday’s Child,” you have always said this is your assignment. So now because you’re upset and it hurts and it’s hard, you’re saying no? You’re telling God no. I’m scared of you. That’s why I’m backing up.’
“He said, ‘Maggie, I’m thinking about Jesus, and how He was forced to carry His own cross. And look at the people in the crowd. … they were spitting at Him and cursing at Him and using weapons that pulled the flesh off His body. And at any time, He could’ve said no to his assignment. But His love for us was so great, He was obedient to the cross.’
“And I was so mad, because he was right. And I was so convicted, and I repented, and I went back and I kept doing ‘Wednesday’s Child,’” she says.
“And that little girl and what she did even in that short time has resonated with so many people. God has used it to minister to so many people. … In the greatest of loss, we still can’t forget our purpose and our assignment. God lost His Son. But look what we gained as a result. He gave His Son. He didn’t lose Him, He gave Him. … That’s kept me grounded.”
The other thing that keeps the Dixons grounded is knowing that God is the one who brought them together. And no, they don’t say that with stars in their eyes. They just know they’re married for a reason, and that they’re meant to tackle life’s problems as a team.
Even if they can’t agree on which brand of cinnamon is best.