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Sam Penrod, Deseret News
For nearly 40 years, Dixon Eliason has been bringing the world of imagination to people in rural Utah thanks to the Bookmobile. After checking out about 3.5 million books and traveling about 400,000 miles, he is retiring.

DELTA — A familiar face for thousands of schoolchildren in Millard County is retiring.

Dixon Eliason has been driving the Bookmobile and bringing worlds of imagination to towns for nearly 37 years.

Every morning, Eliason gets behind the wheel in Delta and drives his office to stops throughout rural Utah.

“We’ve been about 400,000 miles and checked out about 3.5 million books in that time,” Eliason said.

Since he started the job in 1977, Eliason hasn’t even taken a sick day. His upcoming retirement isn’t going to be easy for him or the people he serves.

Over the past few decades, he's become well-acquainted with some of Utah's loneliest stretches of highway, bringing books to the residents of some of Utah's smallest towns.

“Our farthest-away stop is Garrison, and there is a little town called Eskdale out by Nevada. I go there once every four weeks,” Eliason said.

He inherited his current route from his father, Lincoln, in 1986. One of the perks of having this job, Eliason said, is an entire library of books on CD that he can listen to while he’s on the road.

“I’ve never had a hard time going to work. It’s been great and I’ve enjoyed it, every minute of it,” he said.

It’s not because he loves books — it’s the friends he’s made along the way.

“The reason it has been such a great job is because of the people,” Eliason said, “just amazing people and friendships I’ve made over the years. It has been a great reward.”

The patrons who use the Bookmobile say Eliason will be missed.

“He’s been wonderful, always great to point out books that are of interest to us and look things up for us. He’s been very, very helpful,” Phyllis Oakeson said.

Teachers say Eliason has also been a role model for their students.

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“He talks to them, he tries to remember their names without having to look in the book, and he is very personable with them. You can tell he enjoys what he is doing,” said Kae Starley, a teacher at Fillmore Middle School.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Eliason will tell you the key to success in life is reading.

“Once they develop a love of reading, I think the rest of the education follows right along,” he said.

Great advice from a man who made a career out of helping others love to read.

A retirement open house for Eliason will be held at the Delta City Library on Tuesday, March 11, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to stop by and wish him the best in his new adventures.

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com