David Harold Dawson passed away on August 3, 2019 after living a full life spanning 31,362 days full of big grins, firm handshakes, corny jokes and service to others. David began his life on September 21, 1933 when he was born to his parents Elias Alexander Dawson and Fidelia Ellen Nelson. He was the youngest child with Dale and Audene being the older siblings.
David was raised in Layton Utah where he enjoyed, even thrived, living in small-town, rural America. Of his early years, David recalls pivotal experiences that shaped his life, his values and his decisions. His mother taught him to pray daily, even if it was only reciting the Lord’s Prayer, because that was and would be a protection against the temptations of the Adversary and a source of direction, peace and comfort. In grade school, David quickly realized he had a knack for memorizing and retaining what he memorized. This skill served him throughout his career, the vast time he spent serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, and in bringing shear joy into the lives of others. In the middle of David’s second grade year, he recalled hearing, over the radio, an announcement that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese, thus beginning World War II. While David didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the announcement, he learned life long lessons during the war years - doing your part, what it means to be patriotic, and fulfilling your civic duty.
As David grew into his teenage years, he enjoyed mischief, as do most boys at that age, that seeming fell into his lap. When he was in the 7th grade, David was put in the hospital for severe stomach pains and gave the hospital staff a run for their money. First, David set up and participated in wheelchair drag races in the hall. After that was put to a stop, he challenged the other boys in doing wheelchair wheelies to see who could do it the longest which resulted in revocation of wheelchair privileges. The last straw for the staff was when David realized how fun it was to drop spit bombs from 5 stories up when leaning over the railing. David was then confined to his bed. In high school, David’s interest in chemistry was peaked when his teacher did an experiment lighting sulfur. Wanting to recreate the experiment, David pocketed a couple handfuls of sulfur, made his way to the back corner of the basement restroom, deposited the sulfur on the floor and lit it mesmerized by the blue flame. Realizing how long he’d been out of the classroom, David ran back to class. When class ended, David headed back to the basement bathroom only to be baraged by a stampede of students and staff up the stairs followed by a strong odor of sulfur. Realizing the source, David took a deep breath and ran down the stairs to the restroom and threw open the door to find the whole floor awash in blue flame. Even though the flame did not damage the bathroom in anyway, the principal searched for the culprit in vain. David maintained his silence - for many, many years only to share the experience as an adult, out of reach of his old high school principal.
As David moved into young adulthood, he began making decisions that were heavily influenced by his experiences during his youth. He enrolled at Brigham Young University where he continued nurturing his love of music, learning and serving. David joined the Intercollegiate Knights, a service fraternity, and through his involvement in their activities, began to feel the deep joy that comes from selfless serving which became a driving force in his life. Another realization that dawned on David during this time was understanding that, “If I can sing it, I can remember it” and, in his words, “this profoundly affected the course of my life.” In the winter of 1953, David began his first formal service as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Assigned to work in the Spanish-American Mission, David learned to speak spanish fluently and worked in towns and cities across the south-west sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. After 2 ½ years, David finish his missionary work and returned to BYU to complete his Mechanical Engineering Degree. Toward the end of his program, David became aware of Marian Craven when they both ended up in a ballroom dancing class. Much to her dismay, David took a keen interest in Marian and sought opportunities to see her at school or to stop by her home for a visit.
Before the romance reached full bloom, David enlisted in the Army Reserve and was off to boot camp in September of 1957. David and Marian continued their evolving relationship through mailed correspondence. In November, David was stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK for advanced artillery training. David’s feelings for Marian had grown to the point a strong prompting to propose to her in the letter he was currently writing. Almost as a P.S. to his letter, David wrote “Marian, I feel prompted by the spirit to ask you to be my eternal companion and mother of our children.” Long story short, she accepted his proposal. Soon after finishing his training, David and Marian were married on May 19, 1958 in the Salt Lake City Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then the roller coaster of life began for this young couple.
Ten short months after their wedding, the Dawson’s welcomed their first son, Douglas (1959) into their family followed by Neil (1960), Susanne (1962) and Sherron (1964). During these first five years of marriage and family life, David continued his service in the Army Reserves, was in the 2nd class of graduates from the BYU School of Engineering, attempted graduate courses at NWU but weather and recurring sinus infections drove them back to Utah, started work as an engineer for Hercules, and enrolled at the University of Utah in the Chemical Engineering program. If that was not enough excitement, David bought their first home in Hunter Utah near Hercules, almost lost 3 fingers in a lawn mower incident, delivered Susanne in their Studebaker, sold that car for a Station Wagon, sold the house and moved the little family closer to the University, and enjoyed many opportunities to serve in the church - his favorite being a Sunday School Teacher. In the fall of 1965, David terminated his work at Hercules to focus full-time on his graduate coursework at the U of U which, through associations in his graduate work, led to a position at Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan.
The position was a wonderful opportunity but the timing was not the best as Marian was expecting their 5th child, Audene (1969). As soon as Marian returned home from the hospital, packing up the home and preparing for the cross-country move began in earnest. In December, the family flew into the Tri-Cities airport and life as Michiganders began. The next four years were filled with continued family expansion with the birth of David A. (1971) and the last child, Steven (1973). David found a partially unfinished home he purchased for his large family and together, David, Marian and the older children worked to complete the basement bedrooms. During the Michigan years, Doug and Neil advanced through the scout ranks which meant camping trips often led by David. A family camping trip to Interlochen created fond memories as did a trip to Disney World. David served faithful in many capacities within the church including labor to help expand the church building, visiting other congregations to provide leadership and support, working with the youth and serving as a counselor in their ward’s bishopric. During his time working at Dow Chemical as a Process Engineer, David acquiring five patents; three joint, two soul author patents. However, David’s time at Dow came to a close in the late summer of 1974 when he was offered and accepted a position at Allied Chemical in Green River Wyoming.
The move to Green River provided David the opportunity to explore the country between Michigan and Wyoming. So the family loaded up in the Station Wagon when the moving van left Midland and followed a meandering path to their new home into Wyoming and finally to Green River. Their home was purchased and construction began immediately turning the garage into the 4th and 5th bedrooms. Both David and Marian were immediately put to work in leadership positions in their new congregation - both willing to serve in whatever capacity was needed. Almost a year after the move, David was called as a Bishop over a new ward/congregation organizing the members from the ground up - a daunting task but one David approached with much prayer and personal revelation. A month later, there was a labor union strike at Allied Chemical. David and other salaried professionals lived in the plant to keep the plant functioning. Armed guards were positioned around the fenced property as angry strikers fired rifles at the plant. David was allowed to leave the plant via helicopter on the weekends to tend to calling as Bishop. The family was grateful for his brief time at home each weekend and was even more joyful when the strike ended after about six weeks. Green River also provided many opportunities for David to make memories with his family - there were regular hunting trips, the purchase and use of dirt bikes in the sand dunes, paper routes, and frequent trips to the Dawson family cabin,.
Early in 1977, David took a trip to Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals to see a new process being introduced to the industry. While there, he learned of an open position perfect for his expertise that needed immediate filling instigating yet another move for David’s family. Their home in Green River sold quickly and they were able to purchase a large home at a steep discount just as quickly in Pleasant View, Utah. Again, construction ensued to make the house a home for the large family. Despite all the work on the house, David took every opportunity to use the Dawson family boat to take the family water skiing during the summer months. David ensured that gospel living was the foundation for family time. Daily, he and Marian would gather his children around for family prayer and family scripture study. Weekly we would have Family Home Evening, participate in youth activities and attend church services as a family. Without fail, David and Marian prayed together every night for guidance and direction in rearing their children and for their protection and well being. Clashes and disagreements happened on a regular basis among the seven siblings resulting in the clarion call from Mom, “Dave! Dave!” to which David would come to meet out the required discipline. In spite of those times, the children knew their parents loved them fiercely. During the years in Pleasant View, David began seeing his brood of children grow into adults and begin their own lives. Doug and Neil both served missions then they, Susanne and Sherron all and married their spouses leaving the three younger children at home.
During the winter of 1982-1983, record snowfall resulted in a spring flooding of the Great Salt Lake and the subsequent shut down of Great Salt Lake Minerals and Chemicals. David was offered a transfer to sister company Lithium Corporation of America in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The family, now David, Marian, Audene, David and Steven left on a cold December morning, the day after Sherron’s wedding, in their Toyota Tercel in 18” of snow arriving in Gastonia, North Carolina six days later in the midst of an ice storm, What a way to begin the next chapter of David’s life! Again, a house, replete with needed renovations, was slowly turned into the home of David’s family. Two things were vastly different in this new home than any other previous home of David’s past. First, David fell in love with the variety and lush shades of green found across the state of North Carolina. Second, the small congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided unlimited opportunities to serve in formally extended calling and through informal acts of just helping in anyway needed. Both these differences made David’s new home in North Carolina the only place he wanted to live. As the older children started visiting North Carolina, they too felt the pull of the south. All seven children, and their families, eventually lived east of the Mississippi River with six settling in North and South Carolina.
David found great joy and purpose as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ during his years in North Carolina. That purpose permeated all he did with his family too as Audene, David and Steven each followed his example serving missions for the church. He loved working with the youth, visiting members of the ward, working with the missionaries, teaching and singing the hymns of the restored gospel. Often, David invited members, missionaries or colleagues into his home to share a meal which always ended with a short, heart-felt spiritual message. When the ward embarked on the construction of a new meeting house, David, Marian and the children would spend their evenings and weekends on sweat equity projects - removing large rocks and tree roots from the property, digging trenches for sprinkler system, spreading mulch, planting trees, cleaning after construction crews. David was often called to leadership positions both in the ward and in the stake (unit of 7-8 wards/congregations).
After David retired from FMC (Lithium Corp) in 1998, David and Marian, together, began serving missions for the church. Their first mission took them to Ecuador where they first served on the Galapagos Islands building the small branch of members living there and teaching those interested the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They then worked to Quito where David was the Executive Secretary to the Area President and Marian translated documents. They finished that mission in Guayaquil training temple workers at the newly dedicated temple. David and Marian were home for four short months before leaving on their second mission to Killeen Texas where they oversaw the Institute program for local young adults. Many of the participants were military men and women serving at Fort Hood and far from their own homes. David had a soft spot for these young people as they reminded him of his own military service and time away from home. He taught and counseled these young people while Marian fed them for twelve months before returning home. A third mission was in the planning phase but the assignment didn’t come. David called Salt Lake City to inquire and in turn was called to serve in the Temple Presidency of the Columbia South Carolina Temple. He and Mom accepted this calling and thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the House of the Lord for the next three years. Early in the mornings, late in the evenings or on days when the temple was closed, David loved walking through the empty halls and basking in the sweet holy spirit that abides there.
David began to experience complications due to aging after service in the temple so formal mission service ended but that did not end his serving. David got hooked on indexing work for the Family History Department of the church. He loved sitting at his laptop pouring over scanned documents and digitizing the information so those looking for ancestors could easily find them. Often, when David was looking at these records, he bowed his head in prayer seeking divine guidance to interpret correctly some hard to read handwriting. Dad was later recognized in the Church News for indexing over 1,250,000 names. For the subsequent ten plus years, David and Marian continued to serve, shepherd and minister locally within the church and within their community. Even as David’s mental acuity declined, he continued to serve in anyway he could. Until about a year ago, he served faithfully visited monthly members he was asked to shepherd. He led the music in the men’s meetings at church, performed proxy work in the temple, volunteered at a local crisis ministry, assisted in service projects and sought opportunities to bless family members and others in need.
At his passing, David was welcomed into the eternities by his parents, his brother Dale Dawson, and his sister Audene Lewis. He will be waiting faithfully to welcome into the eternities his beloved wife, Marian, children Doug (Jill), Neil (Susan), Susanne (Dan), Sherron (Mike), Audene (Stacy), David (Sunshine), Steven (Wendy), 24 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren.
The family will say their final “See you later Alligator” at a private service held at Benson Funeral & Cremation Services in Mount Holly, followed by interment at Evergreen Cemetery.
A Remembrance Service will be held August 12, 2019 at 2pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2710 Redbud Drive, Gastonia NC 28056.
An Ice Cream Social with The Family will immediately follow the service - because we all know how much David loved ice cream!.
The family welcomes all to either or both events to share in remembering David H. Dawson
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints / General Missionary Fund, https://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/missionary
S.O.C.K.S., 160 Woodlawn St., Belmont, NC 28012
Carolina Caring Hospice, 3975 Robinson Rd., Newton, NC 28658