The color studio that Debbie launched has become integral to the firm’s offerings.

Debbie Dix didn’t know 17 years ago the impact she would have on the landscape architecture firm of Dix.Hite. Nor did she know the impact the firm would have on her.

“She always has a big smile and always treats people really well. But she also has a talent for design that was untapped at the time. I could see it in her,” said Jeff Dix, co-founder of the firm and Debbie’s life partner of 40 years. “She especially loved colors. And so when we asked her to start getting involved in some of our projects, she was a natural at it.”

The color studio that Debbie launched has become integral to the firm’s offerings; she and her studio colleagues have helped create the aesthetic and sense of place for projects ranging from beachside resorts to master-planned communities to urban, mixed-use and retail developments.

“She’s extremely intuitive and has a fantastic design eye,” said Jamie Wright, a principal at the firm who has known Debbie more than 20 years. “She’s contributed so much to our progression as a firm and becoming who we have become.”

As Debbie and Jeff started preparing to be on the road more and in the office less (to retire, that is; or, as their colleagues prefer to call it, to become the firm’s “chief dreamers,”) Debbie reflected on the practice she built and her personal development along the way.

“Landscape architecture shapes communities and quality of life, and if one could earn a degree through osmosis, I’d have mine in landscape architecture,” Debbie said. “As I was learning all of this, the firm also was having a profound impact on my own life. Everyone here was supportive and encouraging, which gave me confidence as a new studio leader while also allowing me the freedom to develop my intuitiveness and creativity.”

Debbie has made time to impart her institutional knowledge, mentor others and share design approaches. "As I move on, I feel good knowing that I have contributed to our team's vision and that the people I've worked with will forever be my friends," Debbie said.

Despite all the preparation, however, coworkers said her daily presence already is missed.

“She brought another aspect of design to the firm that really helps solve the whole picture,” said company president Christina Hite. “And quite honestly, when she’s in the office, it’s awesome, because she has a great aura.”

Designer Johan Bueno added, “Debbie has been a light, I think, in everyone’s day.”