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Longtime dentist Robert Nixon made his athletic mark as an archer, but also as a Vikings sports booster.

COURTESY PHOTO - Robert Nixon pulling his bow with his state championship trophy in 1944. Nixon passed away this past week at the age of 96.No one lives forever, but Dr. Robert Nixon lived well for a very long time.

Nixon passed away March 29 at the age of 96, but long before he did the Forest Grove native left his mark on the community and the people of it.

"He was a renaissance man," longtime friend Tim Schauermann said. "I'll remember him as one of the nicest guys I ever knew, but also as someone who would jump in and help with any project no matter what it was. Just a special guy."

Nixon graduated from Forest Grove High School in 1944. While at Forest Grove High, he won a state archery championship and later placed third at the national event held in Portland.

He also played baseball, basketball and football in high school, and in 2017, he was inducted into the Forest Grove High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

But in addition to his work on the field, Nixon left an indelible mark on the school and athletic community off of it. He participated in the booster club, helping directly to raise money for and build Dick Hendricks Memorial Stadium, the site which to this day hosts Vikings football, soccer, track, lacrosse and more.

That contribution hasn't nor will it ever be taken lightly. Forest Grove High's athletic director and assistant principal Doug Thompson made that clear in a statement in the wake of his passing.

"Bob was an outstanding athlete in high school and we proudly welcomed him into our Hall of Fame," Thompson said, "but more importantly, he taught many how to live a life. We thank him for being a great mentor and role model to many of us."

After high school, Nixon — who came from a family of dentists and aspired to be a surgeon — enlisted in the U.S. Navy and requested placement in the Medical Corps. He was told by service agents they expected the war to last up to 15 years, that an attack on Japan would likely result in roughly 1.5 million casualties on both the U.S. and Japanese sides, and that they didn't have the medical personnel to support it.

And so, after a series of exams, Nixon began a program at Willamette University that entailed 25 hours of school, seven days per week, in which he was expected to carry a 3.5 minimum GPA. Two years later, he had a degree and had been accepted to medical school. Then, in August 1945, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, and Nixon's advanced program was scrapped.

COURTESY PHOTO - Dr. Robert Nixon with his wife. Nixon was a Forest Grove Athletic Hall of Famer who passed away this past week at the age of 96."They wanted me to stay in the Navy (and) go to medical school, then spend an additional 10 years in after that," Nixon told the News-Times in 2017. "I was looking at 14 more years in the Navy, and I wasn't sure how I felt about that."

After returning home and discussing the matter with family friend and physician Charlie Kaufman, Nixon decided against an extended military stint and instead launched his dentistry career in Forest Grove, where he practiced for 50 years.

Schauermann said his first memory of Dr. Nixon was as an early teen, watching the dentist work his magic behind a boat at a nearby river.

"Bob was an amazing water skier," Schauermann said. "Every time he came skiing by he was doing another trick made for TV. On some disc, his bare feet, backwards, he'd do it all."

Schauermann recalled that as an adult, he and Nixon would take their families on snow ski vacations together, and they worked side-by-side at the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce and in the local Rotary. He said that's where he really got to know Nixon, but also where he learned to appreciate his many talents.

"He was a natural-born teacher," Schauermann said. "He could design things, could build things, could teach people how to do things, and then he was just the most humble and nice person."

And that's how Schauermann will remember Nixon.

"He was just a really, really good guy," he said.


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