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Goodbye, Father Dawson

December 2011

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the Rev. William "Digger" Dawson '50 passed away at the age of 84. A beloved member of the Ambrose community for more than five decades, Father Dawson will be truly missed.

Sr. Joan Remarks
Mary Kay Rhomberg (Father Dawson's niece)
Homily Clip One (delivered by Father John Hynes)
Homily Clip Two
Homily Clip Three
Homily Clip Four
Homily Clip Five
Homily Clip Six

"I know you join me in prayer for all those who loved Father Dawson, especially his family and brother priests," said President Joan Lescinski, CSJ.

The Rev. William F. Dawson graduated from St. Ambrose in 1950 and was ordained in 1954. He taught at the St. Ambrose Academy and at Assumption High School before returning to St. Ambrose to teach philosophy in 1961. Father "Digger" Dawson was the student chaplain from 1968 to 1974 and earned his first Professor of the Year award in 1968, with three others following in 1970, 1988 and 1991. In 1981, Father Dawson also began serving as associate pastor at St. Anthony's Church in Davenport.

Throughout his years of teaching, Father Dawson was a true advocate of social justice through his writings, debates and oratory. He helped form Ambrosians for Peace and Justice in 1985 to focus on Central American issues, nuclear war and hunger. In 1997 the Rev. William Dawson Social Justice Award was established in recognition of his commitment to social and economic justice and the promotion and advancement of human rights.

Father Dawson retired from St. Ambrose University in June 2005 after more than 40 years as a professor of philosophy. In 2006, St. Ambrose awarded him the Social Justice Award, established in his name nine years earlier, and in 2011, the McMullen award in recognition of his embodiment of the university's mission. In his retirement, Father Dawson stayed active within the SAU community and continued his ministry at St. Anthony's Church. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination on June 5, 2009.

Father Dawson held a master of arts in history from St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.

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