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Town mourns loss of legendary educator

by Kevin Hamilton
Legendary Iowa Park educator Bob Dawson died Tuesday morning at his residence in Frisco. A teacher, coach, and administrator in the Iowa Park school system from 1957 to 1986 – and principal at IPHS from 1959 to 1985 – Dawson left an indelible mark on the students he taught, the teachers he mentored, and a town he helped to grow. He was 85.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11Thursday morning at the First Baptist Church with Rev. Glen Pearce, pastor, officiating. Burial will be in Highland Cemetery under the direction of Dutton Funeral Home.

“There is an empty feeling for so many today as we say goodbye to Mr. Bob Dawson,” said Iowa Park CISD Superintendent Jerry Baird. “That emptiness is a particular void for so many of his former students and colleagues that came to know him during his career as an educator that touched parts of four decades at Iowa Park High School.

“There is no doubt that during this career, Mr. Darson impacted the lives of many, many students. That fact is obvious from hearing and reading the testimonies of countless Iowa Park High School alumni from far and wide.”

UNIQUE PROCESSION

In a symbolic gesture of respect and thanks for Dawson’s impact on Iowa Park and its’ citizens, the funeral procession will travel south on Yosemite, continue west on West Highway to Iowa Park High School, down Bob Dawson Drive in front of the school, and then loop towards the US-287 access road and continue to Bell Road and Highland Cemetery. The IPHS ROTC Honor Guard will present colors as the procession passes along Bob Dawson Drive (dedicated to him in 2007).

Dawson is survived by his wife, Annebeth Dawson; children, Robert Martin Dawson and wife, Judy; and, Mary Ann Pryor and her husband, Roger; five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and a brother, Neal Dawson and his wife, Wanda.

EARLY YEARS
Dawson was born Dec. 23, 1926 in Lanton, Missouri. He graduated Hayti High School in Hayti, Misouri, earned his Bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University, and his Master’s Degree in Education from George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.

After serving in United States Army in Germany from 1945 through 1946, Dawson married Annebeth in 1947.

The couple located to Iowa Park in 1957, where Dawson coached high school football for one year. “I tried to coach a little bit,” he said in a 2007 interview with The Leader. “I had a 5-5 record. I lost five here at home, and five away from home. And that’s when I decided there was something else besides this.”

Dawson then taught three different subjects, became junior high principal, and finally high school principal.

“I was sitting there one day, minding my own business, and they came by and said they wanted me to be principal at the high school, which I didn’t particularly care to be,” he said in the interview. “But I said alright, and that’s where I was from then on.”

All told, Dawson served as IPHS principal under three superintendents ... Keith Swim, Farris Nowell, and Harold Cowley. He also oversaw the move from the old W.F. George High School to the new campus, as well as the building of Hawk Stadium. “We bought a 50-acre plot of land out there, and everybody complained “What do you need all that land for?” And look now. Every square inch of that land is covered.”

At the end of the same interview, Dawson was asked “Do you wish you had done something else?” He responded, “No, probably not. But the fact that I know so many of them (students) ... so many of them remember me one way or another ... that makes it pretty well worthwhile.”