Dixie Reppe has managed to bring about some pretty spectacular results for Inverness Village since she moved here eight years ago. Her sparkling personality along with a can-do, roll-up-your-sleeves attitude have also made her a much beloved figure.
Mark Gray, Executive Director of Inverness Village, says that when you attempt to describe the impact of her volunteer efforts at the community, it sounds like the work of three or four people. “Dixie is quite simply the most energetic board member I have ever had the privilege to serve with,” Gray says.
Dixie is a vital member of the Inverness Village Board of Directors, guiding such efforts as short- and long-term strategic planning, master planning, Board recruitment and community education efforts to prospective residents. She also chairs the Fund Committee, guiding fundraising efforts for such vital programs as Benevolent Care – which provides financial assistance for residents who have outlived their resources through no fault of their own – and the Inverness Nursing Scholarship program, which has helped further the education of 12 associates. Under her leadership on the Spring Fling Committee, the event has grown 289 percent since 2010, raising more than $50,000 in 2013 for Benevolent Care. Finally, she serves on the Pastoral Care Committee, guiding the community’s faith service efforts. In 2014, Dixie was named Trustee of the Year by LeadingAge Oklahoma, the state's professional association for non-profit aging services organizations.
When life throws you a curve
Her background is as unique as her contributions. At an age when most people are looking forward to enjoying retirement, Dixie was, quite literally, just starting to sharpen the pencils for her first “real job” in more than 30 years.
After a series of physically debilitating strokes forced her husband to close his commercial real estate business, Dixie was just shy of 60 when she realized “I needed to get a job.”
Fortunately for her, she had spent several decades honing her fundraising skills while chairing events for several non-profits in the Tulsa area. The first, a 3-day radio ‘operathon,’ helped her realize “that [raising money] isn’t rocket science,” Dixie says. “You can strategize all you want, but the most important thing to remember is you have to ask.”
A bit of luck came Dixie’s way when Tulsa’s YWCA, where she had volunteered, began looking for a new development director. She jumped at the chance despite the fact that she had never held a formal job in that field or any other since she left teaching soon after college to raise her children.
“I kept thinking my boss was going to come in and tell me what I was supposed to do,” she laughs. “But after a week, I realized he wasn’t going to. I was sitting in my office sharpening and re-sharpening my pencils with no idea how to get started.”
Taking matters into her own hands, Dixie began calling everyone she knew in Tulsa’s development profession and inviting them to lunch. Her question: What do you do all day? She must have learned plenty because when the executive director left, she was tapped to replace him.
Building a new life
Yet, while Dixie’s career was on an upward trajectory, her husband’s health continued to slide, and she began seriously considering the advice of friends who had moved to Inverness Village – join us. Attracted by the community’s continuum of health care services, Dixie and her husband, Rod, moved to Inverness while she was still working for the YWCA.
“It was pretty nice to come home from work and meet my husband in this big, nice dining room and have people bring my dinner to me,” she says. Her husband, who died in 2008, benefitted from the increased mobility and social opportunities that living in Inverness’s apartments afforded him. “I really think I was able to keep Rod for a few extra years because of our move here,” she says.
Dixie benefitted from the move, too. Her network of close friends, who call themselves the Ya-Ya’s, made sure she didn’t isolate herself for too long after Rod’s passing, sometimes getting downright pushy, she recalls fondly. “If I’d have been in a house by myself, I don’t know if I could have picked myself up quite so easily.”
Today, Dixie is engaged to be married to a man who is moving to Inverness Village from another state. The pair met when he came to visit his brother, who is a fellow resident of Inverness Village and a friend of Dixie's.
We're so grateful to have residents such as Dixie lending their energy, intelligence and passion for serving others to this community.