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'This is the hardest thing me and my family have gone through. I love you mom'

A memorial service for Jenny Dixon, a Newmarket mom of three who is remembered for doing 'everything in her power to help people in need', is planned for Friday at Trinity United Church.

If you want something done, ask a busy person. That somebody was Jenny Dixon, whose generosity with her time and desire to always go above and beyond to help out, left a lasting impression on the people who say they were fortunate to call her a friend.

Lifelong friend Michelle Trilho said she and Dixon’s 26-year-long bond of friendship was unbroken, even through life’s ups and downs. When Trilho’s mother passed away in 2008, Dixon was the first friend by her side.

“Jenn was always so supportive and caring, especially through life’s hardships, she was always ready to listen,” Trilho said. “Always going that extra mile to make sure everyone was OK.”

“I miss her terribly and this has affected me tremendously, knowing I’ll never see or hear from her again,” Trilho said, adding that Dixon affectionately called her ‘Mishka’. “We have all lost an angel that was heaven-sent.”

Friends from high school days to recent days make special mention of the strong and consistent role model Dixon was for her three children.

“Jenn was a very involved parent, a caring mom who was engaged with her kids, and an active volunteer. She was the type of person who stood up for what she believed in, in an open, honest and direct way,” said Linda Gilbert, Newmarket’s public school board trustee-elect. “She always made room for one more thing.”

Devastated family, friends and the community at large are grieving the tragic loss of Dixon's life, following the accident on Highway 404 in the early morning of Oct. 26 that resulted in charges for impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence against the other driver. 

Gilbert met Dixon six years ago at a local school council meeting and remembers being struck by the young mother’s authenticity and drive to make her community a better place for all.

Like the time when her son’s school wanted to bring in a yoga teacher as part of a learning strategies course, recalled Gilbert, though it didn’t have the funds. Undaunted, Dixon called Gilbert, then a yoga instructor, and asked her if she would be willing to do it. Dixon’s initiative made good things happen, Gilbert said.

“She loved, and was passionate about, nursing, her kids and her friends,” Gilbert said.

Dixon’s daughter, Jacquelyn McCorkell, reached out with a comment on NewmarketToday’s Oct. 26 news story about the fatal accident and memorial fund that has been established.

“Thank you for sharing a positive light on this. This is the hardest thing me and my family have gone through, so I’m beyond thrilled that people want to help us. I love you mom.”

The community has rallied to support Dixon's children by giving to the Go Fund Me fund set up by her partner of 12 years, Bill McCorkell, on behalf of her parents, Nancy and Bruce Dixon.

The fund aims to help create a future for the children Dixon leaves behind, and will be held in trust by the Dixons. At the time of publication, 1,019 people have made gifts, ranging from $5 to $1,000, totalling $67,960, more than double the original fundraising goal of $30,000 only four days ago. A new goal of $100,000 has been set.

“Jenny’s heart is so big, she would do everything in her power to help people in need,” said Sheryl Thomas, executive director of the Aurora-based Marquee Theatrical Productions, a children’s theatre school. “It was just the size of her heart and she cares so deeply for people. She wanted to support anything that was going on in the community that was good.”

Thomas said she and Dixon were kindred spirits, who shared a passion for providing children the educational tools to live their best life. Dixon sent her youngest child to Marquee’s summer camp, and through that experience, the pair became fast friends.

“If we had raffle tickets to sell, Jenny stepped up,” Thomas said. “She made it so easy to get to know her.”

In her job as a personal support worker at Hill House Hospice in Richmond Hill, Dixon was regarded as a competent and confident caregiver who inspired many with whom she worked.

“She was incredibly compassionate. She had a real gift,” said Karin Lynett, who worked alongside Dixon as a volunteer, often on the Sunday morning shift. “You felt that she really knew what she doing. I learned a lot from her.”

Dixon’s commitment to caring for her patients and their families extended beyond the hospice setting. Lynett recalls a time when Dixon went above and beyond her job — and there were many such instances — for the annual fundraiser, Hike for Hospice.

“She brought in this huge box of decorated cupcakes that she made with her kids with the tiniest writing on each one that said Hike for Hospice,” said Lynett.

Colleagues never had to wonder what Dixon was thinking, Lynett added. When Dixon learned that the hospice’s website and Facebook page needed regular updating, she volunteered to do it.

Heart-wrenching tributes continue to be shared on the Go Fund Me Memorial Fund for Jenny Dixon page, from family, friends, neighbours and colleagues close to home, as well as strangers touched by Dixon’s loss of life.

Dixon was on her way home to Newmarket after work when the accident occurred. She was 41.

A 37-year-old Newmarket woman, Shanshan Xia, is charged with impaired driving causing death, drive over 80mg/alc in 100ml/blood causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and criminal negligence causing death.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Dixon is survived by her three children, Aaron, Jacquelyn and April, partner Bill McCorkell and parents Bruce and Nancy Dixon. She was a sister to Mark (Mikki), aunt to Kodie and Shania, and granddaughter to Mary.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, Nov. 2, at Trinity United Church, 168 Main St. at 1 p.m. Donations to the fund are requested in lieu of flowers, or by direct deposit to RBC account 03342-003-527-103-6.

Online condolences may be made at Roadhouse and Rose here

Donate to the Memorial Fund for Jenny Dixon here

*Editor's note: This article was updated Oct. 31 to include comments from Michelle Trilho.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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