The Rowdy Aaron Nixon
Born March 29, 1973 in Tyler, Texas, Rowdy Aaron Nixon was quite his unique but worthy first name – a name even his own mother hadn’t expected him to bear. A fan of the television series Rawhide, Rowdy’s dad surreptitiously provided hospital staff with his newborn son’s name as a tribute to Clint Eastwood’s character Rowdy Yates, without passing it through mom first.
Rowdy longed to wear a cowboy hat when he grew up… or better yet, sooner. As a pre-teen, for example, he unsuccessfully begged his mother to sign a waiver so he could ride a bucking bronco at a local rodeo. As he progressed through his formative years, Rowdy’s stunts were constantly reaching new heights, sometimes literally: climbing the Christmas tree in the bank, for example, or pulling off tricks on a halfpipe. in his backyard El Centro.
After graduating from Central Union High School, during which time he thrived in carpentry and worked part-time at Driscoll’s Surf and Skate Shop, Rowdy traded in his cowboy hat for a Dixie Cup, the white cap. worn by US Navy sailors. For the next four years, Rowdy would serve his country as a damage controller aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. The Nixon Petty Officer completed his service honorably, winning multiple medals and commendations on multiple WESTPAC deployments.
The end of his military years didn’t mean he was done with public service: Rowdy traded in his Dixie Cup for a firefighter’s helmet, spending the next two decades with the Federal Fire Department at Naval Air Facility El Centro . EMT certified and firefighter, Rowdy has also worked as a firefighter safety inspector. His last headgear swap came when he purchased a hard hat earlier this year, earning Heavy Equipment Operator certification. Again, in service to her community, Rowdy used her newly acquired credentials to help remove trees destroyed by wildfires.
Rowdy wore many hats over his 48 years and held several important jobs. But by far his favorite was to be a dad. Tireless and utterly devoted to his son, Ryli-James Aaron Nixon, Rowdy volunteered as a football, baseball and BMX coach, not only for Ryli but also for the Youth of the Valley. He also loved to share his passions for old cars, skateboarding, surfing, gold and Johnny Cash with the many friends he made during his three decades in El Centro.
Rowdy is survived by his wife, Catherine Nixon; his son Ryli; his mother, Jennifer Yturralde (Dr Guy); siblings Amanda Carpowich (Mark), Dana Smith (Craig) and Ty Yturralde (Amy); and many uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Johnnie Nixon.
A screening will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, October 29 at the Frye Chapel & Mortuary in Brawley. A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, October 30 at 8 a.m. at St. Mary’s Parish in El Centro.