Downtown Dixon mural memorializes local veterans

Scott and Linda Burkitt wanted to honor veterans so they commissioned a mural on Tipsy’s back door.

DIXON – Large pieces of art depicting celebrities over the years have greeted those who enter Tipsy, a bar on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Dixon.

But owners Scott and Linda Burkitt felt something was missing – specifically, a tribute to veterans – and last year decided to have a mural painted on one of the business’s doors to remind patrons of military members’ sacrifices. The result is the large mural that now covers the back entrance at Tipsy.

“I just feel that the vets in general need more recognition,” Linda said. “I don’t know if there is much recognition in Dixon. We have a beautiful site over there by Palmyra, but I think this is more in your face every time someone comes in.”

The new artwork features scenes of veterans, two of them local – Willard Simpson of Franklin Grove, who is a World War II veteran, and Michael Coley of Dixon, a Purple Heart recipient who served in the Vietnam War.

Coley is a friend of the couple. They got to know Simpson through a personal friendship they developed with him when they owned a business in Franklin Grove and heard many stories from him.

Two others who served with Coley in Vietnam in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, known as the Blackhorse Regiment – Bob Zwikle of Billings, Montana, and Larry Barth of Salem, South Carolina – also are featured. They are depicted in artwork of photos that Coley took while serving, which also include one of him selfie style and another of his tank.

Veterans are near to the couple’s hearts. Linda’s brother served in Vietnam, where he was a teacher. She said photos taken in Vietnam show so much to those who view them.

Plans for the mural had been in the works for about a year, with the work started and completed this fall by artist Sydni Reubin, a Dixon native.

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Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.