Dixon served in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1993. He also had a long career in state politics, serving in the Illinois House, Illinois Senate and as the state's treasurer and secretary of state.
He lost the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat in 1992 to Carol Moseley Braun. She was the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
In an interview with the "Illinois Channel" in 2012, Dixon called himself a "moderate Democrat" who sometimes spent more than a week on legislation, as a high-ranking member of a defense Committee.
"I used to work the tables; you know, you understand, you come into the Senate, there's a table on this side for the Republicans - the right side - and a table on the left side for the Democrats, and you vote and so forth. The thing about it is I worked that table a lot."
The Belleville-born man was an attorney. His memoir, titled "The Gentleman from Illinois," was published in 2013. Taylor Pensoneau, a former St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter was the editor. He spoke with Illinois Public Radio's Bill Wheelhouse: