In memoriam: John Douglas “Doug” Dixon, honorary Norwegian

The Pacific Northwest Norwegian-American community says goodbye to a good friend

Doug Dixon

Photo courtesy of the Dixon family
For many years, John Douglas “Doug” Dixon has been a life force in the Pacific Northwest Norwegian-American and maritime communities. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

John Douglas “Doug” Dixon passed away peacefully on May 2, 2024, at his home in Bremerton,  Wash., surrounded by his loving family. He was 72 years old. 

 If you were among the thousands of people Doug Dixon provided with smoked salmon and cod  every year at events around the Nordic Community, at Ballard Seafood Fest or at the Pacific  Fishermen Shipyard, you had some idea of how hard-working and generous he was, how much  he relished being a host and how much he loved his community. 

If you worked with Doug, you  saw he was a brilliant engineer and naval architect who always got the job done. If you were his  friend or lucky enough to be in his family, then you never doubted you had someone  uncommonly loyal and dependable in your corner.

Doug was born on Aug. 18, 1951, near the shores of Lake Erie. He grew up in Cleveland,  Ohio, where his father, George Scott Dixon, was a manager at a Chevy plant and his mother,  Margaret Ann Reeves, was a schoolteacher. 

Like his older brothers Scott and Dana, Doug  studied engineering in college, earning his degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering  from the University of Michigan. Doug worked on drill ships and platforms in Los Angeles, and  when king crab fishing became more profitable, he moved to Seattle. 

At Marco Marine Construction  and Design, he worked his way up to shipyard sales manager, built 140 king crabbers, oil  skimmers, tugs, and other fishing vessels and worked with the Norwegian-American fishing  pioneers of the day, including highliners and their vessels like the F/V Northwestern, made  famous by the Discovery Channel’s  Deadliest Catch  series. 

After stints at Det Norske Veritas (DNV) certifying all types of vessels and Lunde Electric and  Guido Perla Naval Architects, Doug was hired as general manager at Pacific Fishermen  Shipyard in 2001 to improve the company’s financial footing. With Doug at the helm, shipyard  sales went from under $3 million in 2001 to $14 million in 2015 while preserving the shipyard’s  reputation for quality craftsmanship. 

One of Doug’s many highlights was King Harald V of  Norway’s May 2015 visit to Pacific Fishermen Shipyard. Doug was proud to raise awareness of  the company’s place in Seattle’s history, and together with Fred F. Poyer IV, Doug authored a  book about the place he loved so much,  Pacific Fishermen,  Inc.: 150 Years of Norwegian  Heritage Shipbuilding. 

Doug also provided independent  consulting to the USCG, USN, NOAA,  EPA, DOJ, and vessel owners on shipboard design, operational, and tort matters. 

Doug assisted in the passage of the 1987 Commercial Fishing Industry U.S. Vessel Anti-Reflagging and Foreign Reconstruction Act and the U.S. Commercial Fishing Industry  Vessel Safety Act of 1988. His training in Norway as a Ship Surveyor by Classification Society DNV included conducting compliance surveys on many commercial vessels for the U.S. Fishing  Vessel Safety Act, OSHA, and International Conventions on Load Lines, Safety of Life at Sea  (SOLAS), and Marine Pollution (MARPOL). 

If ever there was an honorary Norwegian, it was Doug. Doug was involved in the Ballard High School Maritime Program, helping continue the Norwegian maritime tradition in Seattle. He also  served as president of the Norwegian Commercial Club and was a member of its Fisheries  Committee in addition to driving the shipyard’s “Deadliest Sweeper” in the Norwegian 17th of  May parade. Doug was named Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year in 2014, recognizing outstanding service to the Norwegian-American community. To recognize  his lifelong contribution to the North Pacific Fishing Industry and his countless hours of  community service, the Norwegian Commercial Club (NCC) presented John Douglas Dixon,  Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, with its highest honor, the King Neptune Award, during the 70th  Annual Fishermen’s Night in 2022. Doug was also awarded the Propeller Club Maritime  Achievement Award for significant contributions to the maritime community. He was also  honored to be The Society of Port Engineers of Puget Sound’s “Man of the Year” in 2006.

Doug married Maryanne Jacobson in 1978 on the Virginia V, a historic steamer vessel now  docked in South Lake Union. Together they raised their three children, Jake, Rosie, and Chloe, in Ballard and retired to Enetai Beach on the Kitsap Peninsula. Doug enjoyed watching the  ferries and tugs go by, many that he worked on throughout his career, as well as submarines  and other U.S. Navy ships. He was an avid beachcomber, especially for sea glass. He thoroughly  enjoyed playing on the beach, kayaking, kite flying, crabbing, and fishing with his grandchildren,  grand nephews and grand nieces. 

Doug leaves behind his wife Maryanne, his son Jake and daughter-in-law Ashley Dixon and  granddaughters Julia and Claire, his daughter Rosie Dixon and son-in-law Steven Pate and his  grandson Jonah, and his daughter Chloe Dixon. Doug also leaves behind his brother, Dana, and  sister-in-law Kathy Dixon, and brother, Scott Dixon, and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. 

Doug was fortunate enough to spend many of his final days with his many friends and to be  under the care of his daughter Rosie, a nurse, along with his devoted family. Doug will be greatly missed. 

Doug requested no public memorial service. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the  following organizations: 

Global Ocean Health:

SNAME Scholarships:

Ballard Maritime Academy:


“Fair winds and following seas”

A special word of thanks from The Norwegian American:

It is with great sadness that the staff of The Norwegian American learned of the passing of our friend Doug Dixon

Over the years, Doug has been an enthusiastic  supporter of our newspaper, and his contributions have made a difference. Not only did Doug lead the effort with Pac Fish’s advertising in the paper, he also included us at many events at the shipyard. How many barbecues did we enjoy, where we could connect with the entire Norwegian-American and maritime communities—and I must add that we had a lot of fun over the years. 

Doug was so warm, so down to earth, and he had a great sense of humor. He always made people laugh and feel welcome. Most of all, I must again stress how generous he was.

We all know that there was also  a serious side to Doug, that his intelligence and insight  made the shipyard what it is today. He was truly a uniquely gifted human being, a real mensch in every sense of the word.

Doug, we will miss you but will continue to be guided by your bright and shining star. Thank you for everything.

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief


This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.