Don was born on January 22, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois to parents, Frank A. Dawson amd Barbara Blekowicz (born on the kitchen table at his grandmother’s house, as he liked to note). He and his only sibling, Phyllis, grew up in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood. He was an excellent student and graduated early from Kelly High School on Chicago’s S-Side in 1945.
After securing his mother’s permission, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army just after his 17th birthday on January 29, 1946. He was assigned to the U.S. Occupation Forces – European Command and stationed in Munich, Germany and attached to 66th Constabulary (66th Armored Field Artillery Battalion). He reenlisted on February 2, 1949 for another tour in Germany, and throughout his 6-year stint in the military, Don’s great athletic ability and talents got himself billeted to regularly playing for the Army’s football, baseball and basketball sports teams, in ETO inter & intra-service competition. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Technical Sergeant on February 3, 1953. His awards included: WWII Medal / Good Conduct Medal w/1-Cluster.
During his post-WW2 Army service in Europe, Don met and married his first bride, a young German fraulein then working in Munich named Barbara A. Murmel, who shared in the birth of their son, Donald F. Dawson, Jr. on February 7, 1950. They immigrated to the USA in February 1953, following Don’s discharge and return back home to resume civilian life at his Chicago roots to work and raise a family.
Don chose working in the automobile-sales business as his life-long career, and his first employment was with the George W. Bowers Motor Car Company-Dodge dealership. He worked for several agencies selling cars all over Chicagoland for 25 years, which included: W.A. Mack Cadillac, Jack Brown Buick, Ray O’Connell Chevrolet, Bob Motl Chevrolet & Tom Peck Dodge, selling Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, Desoto, Cadillac, Buick & Chevy autos. He moved to Pensacola, Florida in 1977 and started his own car dealership. Marketing himself as Pensacola’s ‘Unknown Car Dealer’, appearing split-screen in TV-commercials as himself and his ‘Cousin Buford’, and adopting his signature, “Once A Customer - Always A Friend” slogan, Don made his dealership well known in Escambia and Mobile Counties. He successfully remained in business for 27 more years, selling various AMC models, Jeep, Eagle, Renault, Fiat, Porsche & Audi products, until he sold his agency in favor of retirement in January 2004. Don Dawson (aka, ”Mr. Dawson”) is remembered by his employees as being firm, but kind-hearted, honest and supportive.
Don’s personal life went through transition over the years, and realized subsequent marriages to: Mary Blackwell of Salisbury, NC.; Verna Mack of Chicago, mother to his son, Michael Dawson (born March 13, 1969) and adopted son, Patrick Dawson; Rosemary Lubeckis of Chicago, his wife of 17 years and mother to his daughter, Phyllis (born July 23, 1974), with whom he relocated to Pensacola, Florida. Don finally married his dear beloved bride and life-partner, Oren Gilmore Dawson of Pensacola on June 1, 1992.
Don Dawson loved living in Pensacola, but always remained a Chicagoan at heart (”You can take a Dawson out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of Dawson”) and was forever proud of his Lithuanian heritage. He had a soft spot for anything relating to The Windy City, including loving to cheer on and follow its professional sports teams, especially the White Sox. Family and friends enjoyed his charming and colorful sense of humor, quick wit and endless supply of jokes. His talent for being detail minded remembering facts and trivia were truly astounding (he could recall every exact address from his entire past!). Don loved eating and dining at restaurants, entertaining friends and being the life of the party. He also liked playing party games and games of chance, and was one heck of a ping pong player. Don was well-read and an avid Hollywood Movie buff and film collector. Being a self-admitted geographynut since childhood, he and his wife, Oren loved their trips together traveling around the world to visit many distant beautiful and storied destinations.
Don was preceded-in-death by his father, Frank A. Dawson; mother, Barbara A. Young; sister, Phyllis B. Dawson; wives, Verna & Rosemary and step-daughter, Dawn Mack.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Oren Gilmore Dawson; daughter, Phyllis Koteles (Colin) of Park Ridge, IL.; sons, Donald F. Dawson, Jr. (Linda) of Ketchikan, AK.; Pat Dawson of Leona, TX and Michael Dawson (Melissa) of Spring, TX; stepdaughters, Connie Stone (Greg) of Milton, FL.; Teri Sheehan of Pensacola, FL. and Marlene Sheehan of Roseville, CA.; grandchildren, Destiny Dawson, Ryan Bromley, Randy Bromley, Jack Koteles, Holden Koteles, Drew Dawson, Madeline Dawson, Mallory Dawson, Michael Dawson, Jr., Loren Stone, Matthew Stone, Nicholas Stone, Kelly Ravellette, Cameron Abercrombie and seven great grandchildren.
Funeral services for Donald will be Friday, August 25, 2017 from 4:00-6:00pm at Family-Funeral and Cremation located at 7253 Plantation Road, Pensacola, Florida 32504.