Southeast Georgia mayor dies after 26 years in office

The longtime mayor of the Southeast Georgia city known as the “Sweet Onion Capital of the World” has died after 26 years in office, according to city officials.

Vidalia Mayor Ronnie A. Dixon died Wednesday at age 77, the city said in a news release. No cause of death was given.

Dixon had been a fixture in rural Vidalia’s city government for more than four decades. He became a member of the City Council in 1978 and served for 16 years. He was then elected mayor and began his first term in 1994.

A city of about 10,500 people, Vidalia sits in the heart of the farming region that grows Vidalia onions, one of Georgia’s most famous crops.

Dixon was proud of the distinction. In his biography on the city’s website, Dixon proclaimed: “Our community has prospered greatly because of our ability to grow the sweetest onions in the world!”

At the time of his death, Dixon was in his seventh term as mayor, according to the website.

“My Father was the Mayor of Vidalia from 1966 to 1973,” Dixon wrote. “I served on the Vidalia City Council for 16 years starting in 1977. I began my first term as Mayor January 5, 1994, making me the 29th Mayor of Vidalia.”