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Area loses great athlete
by Harry Spencer
Jan 21, 2011 | 2216 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photos - Photos of Dale “Dixie” Landon that were part of his memorial program show the University of Nevada, Reno alum and athlete. Landon died on Dec. 26 and his service was held on Jan. 11 in the Sands Regency ballroom.
Courtesy Photos - Photos of Dale “Dixie” Landon that were part of his memorial program show the University of Nevada, Reno alum and athlete. Landon died on Dec. 26 and his service was held on Jan. 11 in the Sands Regency ballroom.
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Northern Nevada’s answer to all-around athlete Jim Thorpe died Dec. 26. His name was Dale Landon and he was one of the best athletes ever to attend the University of Nevada, Reno. A muscular, 6 foot 1 inch tall athlete, he was adept at football, boxing, track, softball, handball and squash. Even at 70 years old, before his final debilitating illness, Landon was a daily workout visitor at the Reno Elks Club.

In fact, it was at the Elks Club that many of us realized that he was an avid historian, particularly of the history of the Truckee Meadows. It came to light when he approached the leaders of the Good Old Days (G.O.D.) Club and suggested that they make the Elks Club the site of their monthly luncheon meetings. G.O.D. was adrift since their home base, the Liberty Belle, had been demolished.

With Landon, acting as the major domo, G.O.D. Club saw many of its meetings at the Elks Club break attendance records on numerous occasions. In addition to checking every detail of the luncheon setup, Landon also became the official photographer of the organization. He never failed to snap a color photo of the speaker of the month and also was a master of the candid photo. He then posted the pictures on giant, 3-by-5 foot cardboards and dutifully carried them out for display at each meeting. The leaders of the G.O.D. Club are planning to have the large boards donated to the Nevada Historical Society in Landon’s name.

Landon’s daily workout partner at the Elks Club was former Washoe County District Attorney Jack Streeter, a boxer himself when he was a student at the university. Landon became so enamored with Streeter’s World War II historic exploits that he once called a special meeting of some of the local writers to see how a book on Streeter’s life could be brought to fruition. Shortly after that, he emceed a tribute luncheon to Streeter that was one of the record-breaking G.O.D. sessions.

You can usually measure the impact an individual has had on his community by the number of people who attend his funeral. Landon’s was certainly significant based on the standing-room-only crowd that showed up at his service this month in the Sands Regency ballroom. As expected, there was an equal mix of former star athletes and successful businessmen.

Former local newspaper executive Dean Smith was in charge of the event and it was appropriate since Smith also was a stellar athlete. I first saw him in action when he was a grade-school basketball player at St. Thomas Catholic School in downtown Reno.

At the service, Bill Dreher spoke on behalf of Landon’s contributions to the Reno Elks Club. Kim Malfa said a few kind words as she represented Circle of Life Hospice, which cared for Landon in his final days. Other speakers included Rich Hosselkus, Mills Landon, Billy Daniel and a long list at the open mic portion.

At 70 years old and always in tip-top shape, Landon was certainly one of those who died far too young.

Wolf Pack basketball

The Wolf Pack men’s basketball team won back-to-back games for the first time this season with Thursday’s win over New Mexico State. The team’s first road win, which came over Boise State on Jan. 15, marked a milestone for the young Nevada roundballers. Strangely enough, it was the Pack defense that was most responsible for the victory over Boise. Prior to that game, it was predicted that Boise’s usually swarming defense would be Nevada’s biggest problem. As it turned out, the Silver and Blue had the better defense, playing their individual men extremely tight and sporting stifling zone on occasion. The low percentage that Boise shot can only be attributed to Nevada’s sticky defense. Malik Story was the hero of the Boise game as he hit back-to-back three pointers in the closing second quarter.

If the Pack continues to improve, they could be a tough foe when it comes to the WAC tournament at the end of the regular season. The best news for coach David Carter is that if all of his current players continue to stay in school, he could have a very successful next three years.

Celebrity corner

An interesting show aired the other night on the local PBS Channel 5. It was called “Pioneer of Science Fiction” and it highlighted the careers of creators Irwin Allen of “Lost in Space” and Gene Roddenberry of “Star Trek” along with a slight mention of Rod Sterling of “The Twilight Zone.” Of the three, I was most interested in Roddenberry, the only on I had met personally. I was surprised to learn that prior to landing William Shatner to play the part of Captain Kirk, the role had been offered to Jeffrey Hunter, an actor I had met with when he was one of 20th Century Fox’s up-and-coming stars. Following Hunter’s withdrawal from consideration, another top actor, Jack Lord, auditioned for the role. Neither Hunter or Lord was the type for which Roddenberry was searching and luckily so for Lord, who went on to star in “Hawaii 5-0.”

There is no question that Shatner carried the show, but he was more than ably abetted by Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nemoy, who is still a part-time resident of Incline Village.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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