Former GCRTA Board President, Cleveland Restauranteur George Dixon III Dies

George F. Dixon III
Dixon served as chairman of the RTA Board of Trustees for 24 years. [Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority]
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A former president of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees has passed away. George F. Dixon III served as chairman for more than 20 years.

Dixon passed away late last week, according to a statement issued by RTA.

“The RTA family is taking a moment to wish peace, comfort, and prayers to the family of George Dixon,” said CEO and General Manager India Birdsong.

Dixon’s service with RTA spanned the administrations of three Cleveland mayors, Michael White, Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson, leading the transit authority through numerous expansions, including the $200 million Euclid Avenue corridor project and the HealthLine.

From 2003 to 2004, Dixon served as national chair of the American Public Transportation Association and received the group’s Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member in 2006.

According to a 2017 profile in Crain’s Cleveland Business, President Bill Clinton appointed Dixon to represent public transportation interests on the Federal Advisory Committee to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. He also served on the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

But in 2018, Dixon stepped down from the RTA Board of Trustees, at the board’s request. An investigation by the agency’s auditor found he failed to pay the full premiums for his health insurance. Dixon was later charged with theft while in office and pleaded guilty to the charges, agreeing to pay $132,000 in restitution.

In addition to his work in public transit, Dixon was the last owner of the legendary Lancer Steakhouse on Carnegie Avenue, purchasing it in 1986. Decades earlier, the Black-owned restaurant was a hub for the city’s businesspeople and politicians, including Carl and Louis Stokes.

In an interview with Cleveland State University as part of an oral history project, Dixon said the restaurant was renowned in the 1960s for its food and service, and the neighborhood had historic importance for the local African American community.

“In the past, it has had the reputation, especially in politics, if you wanted to be seen in the minority community, this is the place that you would come,” Dixon said. “I have a great love for this area, and I think this corridor can really be something special.”

The clientele and menu changed over the years, Dixon said, but he made an effort to preserve the restaurant’s story.

“This area bustled with many businesses,” Dixon said of the Central neighborhood, which is also where he grew up, on Cleveland’s East Side. “This was, up and down Cedar, from 105 to 55th, was almost like the downtown for the African American individual.”

The restaurant closed permanently in 2009 following a fire, but Dixon continued working in Cleveland’s restaurant scene.

“We are sending our prayers and condolences to the family of George Dixon,” said current RTA Board President Charles P. Lucas in a press release. “George was an entrepreneur, community leader, and a friend to many.”

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