March 29, 2016

Dixie Burrus Browning is awarded Order of Long Leaf Pine



Friends and family members gathered at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Thursday afternoon, March 24, to watch Hatteras Island native Dixie Burrus Browning receive the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's most prestigious award for its citizens.

The award is granted by the Governor to those who have a long record of service and/or achievement in the state.

Dixie Browning was nominated by her cousin, Sandy Ouelette, who read the nomination and presented the award.
 
Browning, 85, is the daughter of Maurice Lennon “Dick” Burrus, a professional baseball player, and Rebecca Stevens Burrus. She grew up in Hatteras village.

"Life there formed strong impressions on her at a very early age," Ouelette said in her nomination. "As an artist and writer of over 100 published romance novels, she brought the Outer Banks’ fascinating locations and beautiful vistas to life over and over again for her readers."

Browning considers herself first and foremost an artist, her cousin said. She studied and later taught art. She paints landscapes and seascapes in watercolor and is listed in “Who’s Who in American Art.” Now recognized as an award-winning painter, juror, teacher, and illustrator, her paintings are included in many private collections, such as those of Nora Roberts and the late actor Andy Griffith. They can also be found in the public and corporate collections of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Duke University Hospital and Medical Center, Barclays American Corporation, North Carolina National Bank, and Bowman Gray School of Medicine, now referred to as Wake Forest Medical Center.

Dixie was the co-founder and first president of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina.

Ouelette said her cousin  wrote an article for “The Suburbanite” in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1975.  Shortly after Dixie began her newspaper column, she became interested in writing for other audiences. She decided to try fiction and between 1976 and 2004, she published 104 romance novels.

"For these novels, she carefully researched the locations and local culture; her expertise of and love for the Outer Banks permeates many of the books," Oeulette said.

Browning was awarded a Romance Writers of America RITA Award and has been a five-time RITA finalist. She also has won three Maggie Awards for her romance novels, and numerous awards from the National Federation of Press Women and the N.C. Press Club.


Browning has lived in North Carolina all her life and now resides in Buxton, very close to where it all began. She is a seventh generation Hatteras islander” and ninth generation Outer Banker.

In November 2015, she participated in the dedication of the Keepers of the Light Amphitheater at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. As a descendant of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse keepers, she rang the bell as each keepers' name was called.

In both her art and her writing, Ouelette said, "she has highlighted her love for Hatteras Island and its people."


Liz Browning Fox told her mother that they were attending a meeting at the museum and that she was "completely surprised" by the event.

"I can't believe we kept it secret on this small island," Fox said.

After the award, family and friends mingled, shared stories, and enjoyed refreshments, including a special cake for the occasion.

Mary Ellen Riddle of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum announced that the museum will present an exhibit next year entitled "Dixie's World," which will be an interpretation of Hatteras Island's history and heritage through Browning's paintings and old family photos.  The exhibit will open in April 2017 and run through February 2018.


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