OBITUARY SUBMITTED BY:
807 South Cherry Street, P.O. Box 5254, Pine Bluff, AR
Lawrence E. Dawson
Published: November 14, 2017
Judge Lawrence E. Dawson of Pine Bluff, transitioned from Trinity Village Medical Center to Heaven on the 11th day of November, 2017 at the age of 94.
He joins his parents, Allie Banks Dawson and Lawrence E. Dawson, Sr.; his beloved daughter, Laura Dawson Chamberlin; brothers, Banks (Louise) Dawson and John (Nelle Jane) Dawson, Sr.; and John's son, Johnny Dawson, Jr.; in-laws, Henry and Cecil Dial; brother-in-law, Dr. Bud Dial; sister-in-law, Pat Henry.
He leaves behind his wife of 58 years, Margaret Ann Dial Dawson, and adored daughters, Dana Dawson McLellan (Mac) and Robin Banks Dawson. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Sterling Henry; son-in-law, Greg Chamberlin; nephews, Martin Henry, Jeff Turner, Alex Dawson, Bruce Dawson, Allen Dawson and Miguel Mendoza; nieces, Linda Dawson Ferstl, Leslie Henry, Betty Ann Hurt, Jacque Dial, and Valerie Dial; and many great-nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Judge Dawson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, October 9, 1923, and was raised during the depression in Buena Vista, Arkansas. His father owned and operated an oil company and was a Justice of the Peace. His mother was a teacher and social worker. He had many fond memories of his childhood. He attended Magnolia A&M College (now SAU) for two years, where he received many recognitions including Student Body President, Most Popular, Friendliest, and Boy with the Best Personality. He was co-captain of the baseball team. In 2006, he received The Distinguished Golden Rider Alumni Award. He then attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he attained a Juris Doctorate in 1948. During his time there, he joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and served as Chaplain, earning him the nickname "Deacon." He was also Vice-President of the Young Democrats Following graduation from law school, he moved to Pine Bluff where his mother and brother were living and where he was in private practice for ten years. While in private practice, he taught Business Law at the Modern School of Business in Pine Bluff and later taught an extension course in Business Law through Monticello A&M.
Judge Dawson was always interested in politics and service to his State and community. He served as a United States Commissioner and in the Arkansas State House of Representatives from Jefferson County. In 1954, he ran successfully for Municipal Judge. Four years later, he ran for Chancery and Probate Judge against Pat Mullis. Mr. Mullis won but passed away shortly thereafter. The attorneys in Pine Bluff unanimously endorsed Judge Dawson to be appointed by then Gov. Faubus to fill the remaining term. He served honorably and ran without opposition and remained Judge for Jefferson, Arkansas, Lincoln and Cleveland counties. In 1968, he mounted an unsuccessful run for the Arkansas Supreme Court. Following that race, he continued as Probate and Chancery Judge. In 1992, following a lawsuit challenging redistricting, Judge Dawson was honored for his years of service by creating a Chancellor at Large position where he tried cases throughout the State.
A voracious reader, Judge Dawson devoted his time to write "50 Years as a Judge and Counting" which was both an autobiography and a treatise on the law. He loved classic movies, music, sports and was a passionately devoted Razorback fan.
There is perhaps no activity in his life he cherished more than his service to the Lord in the First Presbyterian Church, Pine Bluff where was a Deacon and Elder. He was a Lay Minister at many other Presbyterian churches in South Arkansas. He was an honorary Charter member of the Belair Presbyterian Church and taught adult Sunday School for 22 years. He was a Moderator of the Presbytery of East Arkansas. He was on the Board of Trustees at Stillman College, a Presbyterian school at Tuscaloosa, Alabama and later served as Trustee Emeritus.
Judge Dawson felt a deep obligation to serve his community and did so in many ways through several organizations. He was actively involved in the Kiwanis Club, serving as Lieutenant Governor, President of the Pine Bluff Chapter, and was honored in 1972 as Kiwanis Layman Of The Year. He was a member of the Arkansas and Jefferson County Bar Associations, a Fellow of the Arkansas Bar Foundation, the American Judicature Society, President of the Judicial Council, a Mason and a Shriner. He was Vice-President on the board of the Community Chest (which evolved into United Way of Southeast Arkansas) and was on the advisory board of the Salvation Army. In 2004, the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded him with the Community Service Award.
He loved to laugh and his honor and integrity were guiding forces of goodness in his life. He always had a positive attitude and kept smiling until the end. The family wants to thank Trinity Village Medical Center and Hospice Angels for their loving care.
A visitation will be held at Ralph Robinson and Son Funeral Directors Wednesday, November 15, 2017 from 5-7 p.m. The service honoring his life will be held at 2pm on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at the First Presbyterian Church, Pine Bluff. Burial will follow in Graceland Cemetery.
The family asks that donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 717 West 32nd Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71603 or in his memory to the charity of your choice. Online register: www.ralphrobinsonandson.com.
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