Why I’ll Always Remember Dixie Carter

Phyllis People 48 Comments

There are people that come into your life that make a real impact and leave you with wonderful memories of special times together. Such was my experience with Dixie Carter. She is most fondly known for her role as the sassy Julia Sugarbaker in the television show Designing Women.

I met her several years ago at Southern Lady Celebration, an event hosted by our company. She was our honored guest and Southern Lady of the Year. Dixie told stories of her childhood in rural Tennessee and delighted our audience. Dixie once sang for her mother on an episode of the show, and she recounted how it thrilled her mother. Dixie had a beautiful voice. When she finished her presentation, she asked me to come to the stage and sing “Amazing Grace” with her. As I walked up there I was really unnerved; I play the piano but never sing in public, much less on the stage with Dixie Carter. As we sang, the audience rose to their feet and sang with us. The overwhelming emotion of that evening will last a lifetime for me. We kept in touch and had opportunities to visit several times during the next few years. I loved our friendship, and she always had the most encouraging, uplifting things to say.

I called Dixie one day and told her of a friend of mine whose daughter wanted to be an actress and asked if she would recommend an agent for young actresses. She said she would do even better than that—she would take “Miss Brynn” to lunch. They met at a café in Hollywood, and Brynn’s life was changed forever. Dixie opened her heart to a beautiful young lady who experienced the vivacious Dixie Carter that had become my friend.

When Dixie called to tell me she was very ill and dying, I couldn’t believe it. We had talked only a short while before about her new, delightful role on Desperate Housewives as an old, cranky, plotting lady. But that day, her call was somber. After her passing, I think back on her taking time to share her family, her faith, and her love of life with people she encountered. This tremendously famous lady loved life. And amongst her intense schedule, she took time to change lives along the way, including a young Miss Brynn.

Greatness is found in the words that we speak from our hearts to encourage and affirm our friends and family. I will always remember the beautiful smiles, her Southern drawl, and her love of life. I am blessed to have called her my friend and to have shared a small part of her life. She will always be missed, and my life is enriched having known her.

Comments 48

  1. What a thoughtful tribute to such a fine lady. Faithful, fun friends are rare, just like Ms. Carter.

  2. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories. So often, in our society, our elders aren’t respected as they should be. Friendships across ages can be so meaningful, beautiful. I miss my Mom’s wonderful friends, as most have passed on.

  3. I loved Designing Women. I love your story about Dixie Carter. My mom and grandmother were true Southern ladies! I love your blog.

  4. Ruth…perhaps you can create a family journal (blog) of your sister and brothers recollections. I love the idea of family reunions….what a special tradition and what better way to capture your memories but in a form that can be shared by all your family.

  5. Thank you for the delightful memories of Dixie Carter, a true Southern lady. I have just started reading your blog and really look forward to the posts. I am now intrigued to find out what your magazines are all about. I am so proud to be a southener!

    1. Pam, you will love our magazines and can find them at HoffmanMedia.com
      Thinking you will be a Southern Lady reader…it is what we are all about!..

  6. What a beautiful tribute for your friend, Dixie Carter. Her intelligence and spark came across in everything she did on screen. Thank you for sharing some insight to her true spirit.

  7. Thank you for sharing your memories of Dixie Carter. Your story defines the classy Southern lady she was, I too loved the show Designing Women and found them to be endearing role models for working women, they could collect so much respect with sugar and they also had the strength and confidence to put a jerk in their place with class. Dixie always the lady , in her personal style and manners.

  8. Thank you for sharing your recollections of a woman who is the epitome of classiness, intelligence, and beauty. She represents all that true womanhood should encompass, no matter from what region of the country we hale. My dear mother, who just turned 80, is her doppelganger. She looks, acts, and carries herself much as Dixie did. Everyone who knows my mother well has remarked on how similar she is to Dixie or vice versa. I am so blessed to have such a mother, as you were blessed to have had such a friend. God bless!

  9. I am enjoying The Ribbon in my Journal! I loved Designing Women and all the Sugarbaker gals! Southern Charm is so special. I too will try to be that special friend fondly remembered as Dixie was so special to you! Thank you for sharing your heart and soul!

  10. When I saw Water For Elephants I was reduced to tears. My husband totally didn’t get it but for me it was hearing Hal Holbrook describe losing the love of his life so soon after his personal loss. I will always love Dixie, mostly from her role on Designing Women. “And that was the night that the lights went out in Georgia!”

  11. I loved your remembrance of Dixie Carter, who is forever Julia Sugarbaker in my mind. She was competent, intelligent and classy. What power! How lucky for you to have met her and been able to call her “friend.” Thank you, Phyllis, for bringing us the most wonderful publications. I buy them ALL and sometimes more than one copy (to give away). When Victoria first started I used to always buy two copies so that one would always remain in pristine condition. My tea time group thanks you from the bottom of their hearts, too. Thank you for the inspiration and reminders you provide us that life is a journey to be traveled as beautifully as we can.

  12. Thank you Phyllis for sharing your friendship with Dixie Carter. In her photo her face is so alive…so full of life and grace. I never saw her act, but she must have brought something special to her parts. When did she die? G

  13. Loved this notation about Dixie Carter, who was certainly entertaining and I’m sure the lovely lady you described. What a legacy she left us. We all have our legacies to leave to those who come after and so we should set out each day to be that inspiration and encouragement that this whole world, young and old, needs. I am an 81 year old woman and my 93 year old sister and 87 year old brother are getting together at my home for two weeks beginning on May l and seek to inspire each other as we put to paper part of the story of our family…..the sort of lives we lead, what we did and how we have managed to contribute to the world around us and stay close in heart if not in distance. This year we will celebrate our 47tth annual reunion when the whole family comes together for an entire weekend of sharing and festivities. Blessings to you Phyllis for all you do to make others happy.

  14. I look forward daily to checking out the Ribbon In My Journal and was delighted to see a post reminder in our email. What a sweet reflection on a wonderful lady. I was able to share the post with the ladies at the shop and we all were able to share good memories that we all have of her in the roles she has played. She was definitely a classy lady…someone I would have very much enjoyed meeting. Thank you for sharing your memory.

  15. Thanks for sharing your heartwarming recollection of Dixie, Phyllis. Even more gratitude to you for your wonderful publications. I look forward to receiving them each month!

  16. Beautiful story of a beautiful friendship. Thank you for sharing. This is a wonderful blog that puts a smile in my day. I read what you say, Phyllis and then read every shared comment. I feel like we all have something in common – a love of grace and beauty – and you seem to have both.

  17. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty in a life well lived. We women are blessed to have each other to encourage us. I am so happy that I have the privilege to read your heart in the pages of your journal. I feel that I have become a part of a community of women of grace and beauty. Sigh……

  18. She was a force of nature and I adored her. I love beautiful women who are funny. And as you knew from your friendship a very kind and generous human being.

  19. Just a beautiful memory. I love the way you write and what you write about. I’m in love with 2 of your magazines and look forward to receiving them in the mail. You make some of my happiest days happier.
    Thank you

  20. What a precious memory you have in your friendship with a woman, who was obviously not only a successful actress but someone who was a true friend for those whose lives she touched……
    I used to love the TV show, Designing Women, but had no idea of the true person Dixie Carter was……thank you for your enlightening story.

  21. That was such a lovely evening seeing and hearing her. I have always loved her on Designing Women. I will always appreciate the time spent at Southern Lady Celebrations celebrating Southern Women. Thank you for having such a gracious guest. I will always remember it.

  22. Thank you for sharing your memories of Dixie Carter-her Julia Sugerbaker character was one of my favorites. Something else you wrote struck me also, I too would like to be someone who has enriched someone’s life. You have given me a new goal and I thank you for that.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you. As I recounted Dixie, I too wanted to make a real effort to do that. I a world of electronics I fear we are losing the tremendous power of the spoken word. I too share your goal!

  23. I recently found a photo of Dixie and myself, from that Southern Lady Celebration. That was a magical evening, I remember it well. Thank you for the reminder of Dixie’s Southern charm, she was delightful!
    Great memories, Kimberly Bean, Brentwood, TN

  24. Truly one of the highlights of Brynn’s life! Thanks for sharing your friend. Thanks for being my friend!

  25. Very touching, she was always one of my favorites on TV. I think it was her being so genuine that came through. Truly a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing your memories!

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