Dixon Bond helped bring Ordway to life

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 11, 2014 - 7:15 PM

 

Dixon Bond was a troubleshooter.

From leading construction of the Ordway Center in St. Paul to rescuing a struggling Northfield school for the disabled, he turned around many a troubled project or program.

“He’d go into building projects that were financially in trouble and they’d hire him to make them work,” said son Jeff Bond of Randolph.

Dixon Bond died of a heart attack at home on June 30. He was 77.

He worked with both business and nonprofit institutions, including Green Giant, Carleton College, the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Minneapolis Children’s Theatre and Pillsbury Center. He was on many projects, boards and commissions.

His goal, according to his family, was to make the world a better place to live.

After a “remarkable job” spearheading the $46 million construction of the Ordway, which opened in 1985, he stayed on as president and chief operating officer, said Patricia Mitchell, current Ordway president.

“There were unanticipated building and financing costs, and he helped figure out how to solve those riddles,” she said. “He was a builder and a fixer. The Ordway today is a testament to his brilliance as a builder.”

George Latimer, St. Paul’s mayor when the Ordway was built, said Bond was quietly instrumental in helping to build one of the great theater centers in America.

“He was totally without ego,” Latimer said. “He was totally mission oriented. He inspired the confidence of all the philanthropists who were responsible for the building of the Ordway. He conveyed a sense of seriousness and trust.”

In Northfield, Bond served on the City Council, planning commission, hospital board and was president of the Northfield Arts Guild, among other civic roles.

“He had interests of everybody in Northfield at heart and always helped in ways that were appropriate for his interests and talents,” said Keith Covey, who was mayor during most of Bond’s six years on the City Council.

He said Bond was on the board of directors of Northfield’s Laura Baker private residential school, which teaches students ages 5 to 22 with developmental disabilities. When funding and financial struggles arose, Bond was hired on the staff and helped the school once again thrive, Covey said.

“It was failing and he turned that around,” Jeff Bond said of the school. “He worked for that for free for a long time because they couldn’t afford to pay him. So he didn’t ask for any pay until they were on their feet.”

Dixon Bond was born to Joseph and Harriet Bond and grew up in south Minneapolis. In 1955, he graduated from Southwest High School and went on to Carleton, earning an economics degree in 1959.

As a freshman, Bond formed a men’s close-harmony singing group, the CarleTunes, which became the Singing Knights.

The group is still going strong, just as is the old house near campus where they first practiced. It belonged to college librarian Dacie Moses, who later bequeathed it to the Carleton Alumni Association.

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