Dixon died unexpectedly Saturday night. He was 52.
"He was a dear friend to us all," ABC13 News Director Rehan Aslam said. "The loss we feel today is beyond measure."
WATCH: In a private ceremony, Willie Dixon was laid to rest with family and close friends by his side
Willie's face may not have been familiar to ABC13 viewers, but the video he captured was Houston's window to the world and some of the most compelling moments in recent history passed through his lens.
"He traveled everywhere for us," ABC13 Chief Photographer Bernard Francis said. "Politically, he and Tom Abrahams interviewed every single presidential candidate leading up to the 2016 election."
Willie Dixon was singular. He was a bright light. He was a beautiful soul. He was a devoted husband and proud loving father. He was a talented, smart, tireless journalist who always saw the best in people. He was kind and genuine. And he was my friend. 🎥🎥 pic.twitter.com/b84N9fSy2l— Tom Abrahams (@TomAbrahams13) April 26, 2020
Willie L. Dixon Jr. was born on July 8, 1967 in Mobile, Alabama, and graduated from Alabama State University, where he played trombone in the ASU Hornet Marching Band. He came to work at KTRK-TV in 2006 from WFTV in Orlando, Florida.
Willie covered Super Bowls, the Houston Texans, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Rockets as the primary sports photojournalist.
Astros' shortstop Carlos Correa took to Twitter to share his condolences saying, "One of the good ones out there. We will miss you!!"
Not Willie 😢 RIP brother 🙏🏽 One of the good ones out there. We will miss you!! https://t.co/GdpURhDRru— Carlos Correa (@TeamCJCorrea) April 26, 2020
Willie also covered world events, including the 2013 papal conclave in Rome.
Willie Dixon was the first person to make me feel at home at ABC13. It didn’t take long. I think it was my second day we worked together and from our first laugh, I knew I had a friend. Willie was the best in every one of us.— T.J. Parker (@TJParkerABC13) April 26, 2020
I’m going to miss you, my friend. pic.twitter.com/hr1P2kYrxq
Photojournalist Marvin Suggs remembers Willie for his warmth and approach to life, especially while working in a business where sadness and pain are common subjects.
"He had a smile that would light up a room and always had a positive attitude no matter what," Suggs said.
"He was what I termed the smile of the newsroom," Francis remembered. "He was helpful to any employee and he meant it."
Willie Dixon was the nicest person I have ever known! His enthusiasm, character, & zest for life was unsurpassed! His personality exuded happiness, & positivity no matter what the circumstances. He was the epitome of GENUINE! We ❤️ You Man & Will Miss You! God Bless 💖❤️🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/CcL20zLfSk— John T Mizwa (@13PhotogJohnM) April 26, 2020
In a sweet moment captured by ABC13's Samica Knight, Willie is heard cheerfully joking with Knight's grandmother on the phone during an ordinary day out on the field.
KTRK President and General Manager Wendy Granato first worked with Dixon as Executive Producer of Special Projects for the station.
"Willie loved covering sports and politics and, if you'd ever been blessed to travel internationally with Willie, like me, you know he loved buying beautiful things for his wife Dorothy," Granato said. "Willie was a proud and devoted father to two beautiful, smart, successful daughters. ABC13 will never be the same without Willie."
As technology progressed throughout his career, Willie adapted and embraced new ways to communicate including the use of Twitter.
His last post on the social media platform came just hours before he died as he expressed support for the ailing Anchor Emeritus Dave Ward, who's hospitalized.
On the lighter side, Willie was known within the ABC13 ranks for his use of emojis in his posts.
"His emojis were a work of art," Granato said.
Outside of the station, tributes poured in from people and organizations Willie covered throughout his time in Houston.
Mayor Sylvester Turner shared memories of Willie via Twitter, writing, "Each time I saw @abc13houston's @13PhotogWillie, he was always professional, positive, and truly brought smiles and joy to the individuals he touched."
Saddened to get the news of Willie Dixon's passing this morning. Condolences to the Dixon family and his colleagues at @abc13houston.— Texans PR (@TexansPR) April 26, 2020
Willie's constant smile and passion for his work impacted everyone he encountered. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/AZCjqtT4Ur
Over the past couple of months, @13PhotogWillie helped capture how our city combatted #COVID19. It was this past Friday, where he covered a story of @LSCHoustonNorth's food and toiletries distribution in #AcresHomes while also attending our daily news conferences. (2/5) pic.twitter.com/KyTQBSywTO— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) April 26, 2020
"We're sorry to hear of the passing of @13PhotogWillie," a tweet from the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office stated. "While TV viewers get to see the staff in front of the camera, we get to know the ones behind it too. He was always friendly and professional."
We’re sorry to hear of the passing of @13PhotogWillie While TV viewers get to see the staff in front of the camera, we get to know the ones behind it, too. He was always friendly and professional. We send our best wishes his @abc13houston family. pic.twitter.com/HzQHhkyscs— FBCSO Texas (@FBCSO) April 26, 2020
Sorry to learn of the passing of @13PhotogWillie. He was always friendly, kind, and professional. Our condolences go out to his family and @abc13houston colleagues. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/3uXnzYV8Ff— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) April 26, 2020
"Willie covered the mayor's daily #COVID19 briefings," said City of Houston Communications Director Mary Benton tweeted. "His professionalism, positive attitude and smile will be missed."
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed her condolences during a press briefing on Monday morning.
"I want to say to his wife and his daughters, and to the entire ABC13 team, on behalf of Harris County, thank you," Hidaldo said. "Know that you are loved, that you are appreciated, that your work changes lives, and that Willie will be deeply missed."
He's survived by his wife, Dr. Dorothy Brown Dixon, and two daughters, Dominique Jasmine Dixon and Sydney Walters Dixon.
Willie's family released a statement Sunday about his passing.
Willie Lee Dixon Jr. aka Jay left this Earth to be with God yesterday, April 25th 2020. Unfortunately, Jay passed away from a pulmonary embolism in his lungs that, as of now, is completely unrelated to COVID-19. Our husband, father, and rock will be remembered for the immeasurable love, support, and the joy he brought to people's lives. We know that Willie's kindness, humor, and love touched all of his family members, friends, coworkers, church members and neighbors. Please keep his family and those who loved him in your thoughts and prayers, as we will miss him immensely.
Thank you Jay and Daddy for your extreme unselfishness and constant warmth.
RELATED: ABC13 Photojournalist Willie Dixon's daughter shares chaotic story after journey back home from Spain
A memorial website has been created in Willie's honor.
A virtual memorial service is set for Saturday, May 2. You can read more about the life of Willie Dixon in his obituary.
We are so sorry about the loss of Willie. He has been to Lakewood many many times. He had such a big heart, he always had a smile, he was the kindest, hardest working photojournalist around. We will miss him greatly. @abc13houston— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) April 26, 2020
I will miss your loud contagious laugh.— Mayra Moreno ABC13 (@MayraABC13) April 26, 2020
I will miss seeing your smiling face at work.
I will miss you coming over to my desk to say “hey tell the desk we need to work together”
I will miss your texts just to say hi.
I will miss your screenshots of every newscast & emojis! 💔 pic.twitter.com/AYGn9wjgJy
I’m struggling hearing @abc13houston photographer, Willie, died. We covered stories in Houston and around the country. He was one of the nicest. It’s fitting @13PhotogWillie’s final tweets were asking for prayers for another. He was known as the emoji king. To me, he’s only: 😇. pic.twitter.com/UVycAyyOD9— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) April 26, 2020
We all know one of the people in this photo. I wish you knew the other too. Willie Dixon was an @abc13houston photojournalist. He worked hard, laughed harder, smiled bigger & loved more. We lost him. I pray his family never forgets how much we loved him too. Photo: @HoustonChron pic.twitter.com/paGEsOFEX8— Ted Oberg (@TedABC13) April 26, 2020
Friday, he dropped me off at my house around 6:30 pm. Never could I imagine the text messages we exchanged on Saturday would be our last. He died suddenly last night. He leaves behind his beautiful wife Dorothy, & his two accomplished daughters. 2/ pic.twitter.com/rR6RiAx8EQ— Miya Shay (@miyashay) April 26, 2020
Devastated. I will miss my dear friend, Willie Dixon. The kindest heart. Best attitude. Amazing work ethic. Always smiled. Praying for his family. pic.twitter.com/cowscyujBR— David Nuño (@DavidNunoABC13) April 26, 2020
Willie Dixon was the best. The best coworker. The best photojournalist and the best friend. This was Willie. Fun, happy, hardworking. He made us all better. I pray for his family, whom he loved so much.— Jessica Willey (@ImJessicaWilley) April 26, 2020
We loved him. @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/38jMCQvyxI
I’m still in shock over the death of @13PhotogWillie He was one of the kindest, hardest working and most delightful people I’ve ever met. My heart breaks for his family and all of us who lost an incredible soul. The world won’t be the same without his smile & laugh. #abc13 pic.twitter.com/r4m0daU3mc— Tom Koch (@TomKochABC13) April 26, 2020