Mabel grew up in Aurora, Nebraska. In 1905, she was one of only five women out of a class of 275 to graduate from Northwestern University School of Dentistry. After graduation, she opened a practice at 800 W. 2nd Street in Hastings, becoming the fourth female dentist in the state. It was more than 40 years before there was a fifth. Adams County did not see a second female dentist until 1999 when Dr. Jessica Meske opened her practice.
Mabel felt strongly about promoting general health care. This led her to go on a year-long mission to Puerto Rico in 1914. While there she helped establish a Presbyterian social settlement providing education and health care.
Outside of her dental practice, Mable was extremely busy. She helped establish the YWCA in 1916, serving as its first president and an active lifetime member. Two years later, she organized the Hastings Business and Professional Women’s Club. In 1922, with the encouragement from the League of Women Voters, she became the first woman to run for the Hastings City Council, losing to incumbent Walter Livingston. In 1936, she also served as secretary-treasurer of the American Society of Women Dentists and was elected president of that group in 1938.
Mabel loved to entertain. She would host Christmas and garden parties at her home, where members of the Adams County Dental Society were regular guests. It was said, “she poured the stiffest drink in four counties.”
In 1965, Mable became the oldest practicing dentist in the world. She retired in 1968 at the age of 87. To this day, she is the longest practicing dentist—male or female—in Hastings.
(above) Mabel Dixon on her 84th birthday. Courtesy of Adams County Historical Society.