Obituary: Adelaide Finkbine Hixon

Adelaide Finkbine Hixon
Adelaide Finkbine Hixon

Adelaide Finkbine Hixon of Pasadena died at her home on Nov. 6. She was born on May 31, 1918, and lived for 101 years. She is survived by two sons, Andrew Hixon of Santa Barbara, and Anthony Hixon of Cohasset, Massachusetts, as well as seven grandchildren. There are now 12 great-grandchildren whose ages run from 1 year to 30. Adelaide was predeceased by her husband, Alexander P. Hixon, and her first-born son, Lex Hixon.
Adelaide was a uniquely powerful, complex and loving person who has deeply influenced hundreds of people during her long life. She could light a room with her intuitive and lightning-like intellect, yet she also possessed a vivid sense of humor, which ran the gamut from the bathroom variety up into the subtle realms of high wit. Her funny bone often prompted her to tears of pure joy. Adelaide had a decent golf game and was a highly accomplished fly fisher with intimate knowledge and love of scores of spring holes and miles of trout streams in the woods of Northern Wisconsin.
For an article in Pasadena Magazine she summed up her early life. “Pasadena was developed and formed by winter resort people. My family came when I was about a year old, from Iowa. They would spend the winter and then go back, and eventually they bought a house and stayed. I was raised here until I went to school in France, when I was 12 or 13.” Adelaide attended Westridge School in Pasadena, the Shipley School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Vassar College. She married Alexander P. Hixon in 1938.
Adelaide was dedicated to liberal and humanitarian values from an early age, and she was the dragon enemy of pomposity, fatuousness and hypocrisy. She felt that her wealth and social position demanded that she be aware of and of assistance to people who struggled in life. Adelaide and Alec put their time as well as their money into the service of causes and institutions whose work they admired. For example, when in their late 40s they volunteered to work for the United Nations Development Program, aiding developing countries by serving in one diplomatic post for five years in Accra, Ghana, and a second for three years in the Western Pacific, based in Apia, Western Samoa.
Adelaide believed in education and she and her husband innovatively supported the Pacific Oaks School, Westridge School, Polytechnic School (establishing an internship program for student teachers in conjunction with PCC), Pasadena City College (a teacher training program), Yale University (a Center for Urban Ecology, an endowed chair and scholarship support for African students), Harvey Mudd College (a Center for Sustainable Environmental Design and a professorship in the humanities), and Caltech (a writing center to assist engineers and scientists to write clearly). This is a partial list. Adelaide was particularly focused on scholarships, because of the diversity that she encouraged, and scholarships for teachers so that they could enlarge their abilities.
After being a nurse’s aide during World War II, Adelaide started doing community service of all sorts. She did volunteer work for Planned Parenthood for years. On one occasion she took her young granddaughter with her to help hand out free condoms on the street. Various boards and executives were attracted to Adelaide because of her intelligence, honesty and insight, and an innate willingness to speak truth to power. Adelaide served on the board of Southern California Public Radio, and she was on the national board of People for the American Way. Politically, Adelaide donated to mostly Democratic candidates. She was proud to have been an early supporter of Congressman Adam Schiff.
Adelaide was a lifelong patron of the arts. She was a member of the Pasadena Art Alliance, the Conservatory of Music, served on the board of the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon), the board of the Center Theater Group, and was involved with the Art Center College of Design. Adelaide said, “I am not just an art patron. I’m interested in our civilization. One of the problems is some people are so interested in art, they forget that people have to eat, educate their children, and art won’t do it. So you have to be more diverse in what you support.”
Adelaide was involved with and a supporter of All Saints Church in Pasadena. Her son, Lex Hixon, led Adelaide into a deepening interest in Eastern religion. Desmond Tutu became her friend. Recently, Adelaide held hands with loved ones, looked them in the eye, and said, “I am trusting you to be happy.”
The family will be scheduling a memorial service for Adelaide on a date after the holidays.

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