MANATEE — Mary Elizabeth Mixon, the matriarch of what is now a multimillion dollar business called Mixon Fruit Farms, passed away Thursday. She was 80.
The long-time resident of Bradenton died at Ellenton Hospice House in Palmetto after a long struggle with illness, her family said.
Mrs. Mixon loved her church and her family, and was an important engine in the growth of the family business, they said.
“She didn’t have any special hobbies to speak of. She just loved working in the family business with her sons and daughter-in-laws,” said William Mixon, her husband of 60 years. “She worked a lot. She loved to cook, was a very good cook. She believed in taking good care of her family.”
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“We had a wonderful life, really,” he said. “I don’t think I could go back and improve anything. She loved her family, we all worked together.”
Funeral services are set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Manatee United Methodist Church, 315 15th St. E., Bradenton. Internment will be private.
Mrs. Mixon was the first baby born in Bradenton on Jan. 1, 1929, and grew up within a half-mile of her future husband, family members said.
They went to school in Bradenton together through the 9th grade, but after her father died, she and her mother moved to Jacksonville. Her mother worked at the Florida Times-Union newspaper, said William Mixon.
In 1948, seven years after his childhood sweetheart had moved away, he was attending a citrus conference in Ocala when there was a break in the program.
“I was by myself,” remembered William Mixon, 81. “I said, ‘Well, I’m going to see if she still lives in Jacksonville. I called, and by golly, she answered the phone. I asked if I could come by to visit her, and she says, ‘You sure can.’ ”
“We met for the first time in seven years, we both knew that was it.”
They married in 1949 and this year celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, but it was a bittersweet one because she was suffering from several debilitating ailments, including cancer, a broken hip and heart problems, said Janet Mixon, one of her daughters-in-law. Mary Mixon had also been blind for years, a complication from diabetes, Janet Mixon said.
“She never, ever complained. She was probably the strongest woman I’ve ever met. She just persevered,” Janet Mixon said.
Mary Mixon had been an important part of Bradenton all her life. She helped to expand the family business from a simple roadside fruit stand to the multimillion enterprise is today, said Janet Mixon.
Survivors include her husband, William P. Mixon, of Bradenton; son, William Dean Mixon and daughter-in-law Janet, of Anna Maria Island; and son James Donald Mixon and daughter-in-law Kathie, of Saluda, N.C.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031, or at email@example.com.