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Falls couple to be honored in Yule parade

Thursday, December 3, 2009

by Sandra Gubel, The Sanders County Ledger

Neil and Dixie Carman missed their goal when they relocated to Thompson FaIls 15 years ago.

Dixie jokes they planned to retire. But the "first couple" of Thompson Falls have everything but that.

Fortunately, the two have a job next week that shouldn't take much effort. The Carmans have been selected for the honorary "job" of Grand Marshal of next Wednesday's (Dec. 9) lighted Christmas on Main Street Parade.

"I really do this for fun," explained Dixie not long ago of her continued work in nursing. Before moving to Thompson Falls, Dixie had worked a full career as a registered nurse in hospitals and nursing homes.

In Sanders County, when she learned that the closest home health nurse at the time lived in Heron, she decided to go to work for Clark Fork Valley Hospital's Home Health and Hospice program. Dixie truly believes that it's better for patients to recover, whenever possible, in their own homes where they are happiest.

Available to provide loving care 24/7, the cheerful nurse faithfully visits patients throughout western Sanders County, and puts at least 1,000 miles per month on her familiar little blue car.

Dixie's role as a nurse is just the tip of the iceberg, where her community service begins. She puts in countless hours that are not "on the clock," frequently stopping in to check on people, especially on holidays when they might be alone. She brings food or medicines when they can't get out. She doesn't just visit her "patients," either. She sends a lot of cards, too.

Dixie frequently takes blood pressures of seniors for free, setting up at Thompson Falls Senior Center.

She was recently honored for 10 years' service to Sanders County citizens. Whenever summoned by law enforcement officers, she'd come, mostly during the wee hours of the morning, to draw blood used to test for the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in people they'd apprehended. The Montana Highway Patrol noted that her volunteerism would have cost law enforcement agencies $55 each time she drew a blood sample.

Looking out for the young people, too, Dixie sought help from the local city council. They approved installation of crosswalks surrounding Thompson Falls Elementary and Junior High campuses.

She has been known to take people to the hospital in the middle of the night; to hold people's hands, give them a kind word when a family member is dying. There are likely many things Dixie has done, that only God is aware of, lives that her mercy and compassion have touched.

And the same goes for her husband Neil, who is often seen performing numerous good deeds. Rising while it's still night, he plows the sidewalks of the business district when it snows. He plows the driveways of many elderly citizens. He does countless deeds too, whenever asked. Like his wife, Neil prefers to stay out of the limelight. Neil's handiwork at home is truly a service to the community, too. When the Carmans moved to their current home 15 years ago, the trees and shrubs were so tall that no one could see the beautiful view of the river.

Neil removed many of them. He hauled away car parts, removed dying trees, shrubs and garbage. He cleaned up 11 other lots the couple owns, fixing up an old auto body shop that he cleaned up and added siding to, to match their home." An old fallen down house" next to their home.

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