Hospital mourns hard worker

Sister Stephen Maria Dixon had a keen intellect, good foresight into the future of medical imagining

Sister Stephen Maria Dixon had a keen intellect, good foresight into the future of medical imagining and a knack for hiring the right people during more than five decades at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dixon, who is credited with advancing the radiology department at St. Mary’s Hospital where she started as a licensed radiologic technician and ended as the department’s supervisor, was quick to share her knowledge, colleagues remembered.

Dixon, who was born in Schenectady as Elizabeth Lucy Dixon and became a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1952, died last week. She was 84.

“She was always on top of it,” said Vincent Carelli, director of the radiologic technology program at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. “She was a great lady, very personable, with great insight. She was great to ask questions of and seek advice from. I couldn’t say enough of her, she would put things aside just to talk to me.”

Carelli said his professional and personal relationship with Dixon went back to when he would frequently consult with her while he served as administrative director of the radiology department at St. Clare’s Hospital in Schenectady.

Dr. Ruperto Young, who was a radiologist at St. Mary’s until his retirement in 2003, knew Dixon since he first moved to Amsterdam in 1977.

“A very intelligent person, very organized. I depended on her most of the time for running the department,” he said.

Young said Dixon’s strong point was that she had great foresight in planning and developing the department. Under her guidance, the department implemented many new technologies, including ultrasound, mammography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine. Young said while Dixon ran the department, it grew from a small operation to performing between 20 and 30 procedures a day.

Dixon was also known for her people skills, colleagues said. Young said the technicians she hired often stayed with the department for years.

One of her hires was Lorraine Murphy, of Amsterdam. Dixon was Murphy’s first boss. She started in 1967 as a radiologic technician, while Dixon was serving as head of the department.

Although Murphy has been retired for awhile, she still remembers everyone’s name in the department when she started. Most of them are now dead.

“Sister Stephen had great vision for the future of medical imagining,” Murphy said. “She was always looking to get all the latest in technology.”

Murphy said Dixon was a strict boss, but fair.

“You knew where you stood with her,” she said.

She was also more than a boss; she became personally involved with Murphy’s life.

“We were like a family when I first started. We would take small picnics together and she would come over and go swimming in my pool. She knew the children and grandchildren and she knew my parents well.

“It was so nice to have your first working experience be so pleasant,” Murphy added. “I was really saddened when I heard. … It was like losing an old friend.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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