Remembering Jack Dawson

He was the host with the most.

Credit: Whittier Daily News

The Opera League mourns one of its beloved members and most passionate volunteers, Jack Dawson, who passed away on September 15, 2020.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, John L. "Jack" Dawson lived in 42 places throughout his life, but only four places after he was married.

Jack graduated from the 12th grade at Pasadena Junior College in 1949. He served in the California National Guard four years, and in the US Army Reserve ten years. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1953 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Jack became a licensed registered Engineer in the State of California in 1962. Later, in 1979, he received a Masters Degree in Engineering.

He married his high school (Evanston Township HS, Class of 1950) sweetheart, Barbara Staegemann, in 1955 in Evanston, IL. That same year Jack joined his father's Los Angeles company, after gaining two years of hands-on training while working for General Electric. Not long after Jack came aboard at the Richard S. Dawson Company, he took over the company for his father and continued to successfully build a business that still thrives today, employing 48 people. The Dawson Company designs and sells mechanical equipment for cooling, heating and refrigeration. It is now located in Pomona, CA. Jack held the reigns till 1997, when he semi-retired after having major heart surgery. He sold the company to his employees, yet continued to work part-time until 2007 as a consultant. He loved what he did and he excelled at it: troubleshooting broken-down systems and finding solutions to a multitude of problems. Barbara said he was always solving problems that did not exist.

Jack took the same hands-on method while raising his sons, David and Tim, which found him becoming Scout Master of Boy Scout Troop #504 in La Cañada Flintridge. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor several students as they began to choose their educational path that lead them to the engineering profession.

Proud Scots, Jack and Barbara were lifelong members of the Saint Andrew's Society of Los Angeles. They hosted many spirited and memorable meetings (complete with pipes!) at their home. Always looking for adventure, Jack and Barbara toured every state in the Union and visited 22 other countries. An avid hiker and skier, Jack climbed Mount Whitney and rode his motorcycles across the country from Philadelphia to La Cañada Flintridge. The Dawsons were also members of the Santa Anita Mode A Club for over twenty years. They joined other club members as they drove their Model As while touring the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Jack was very active in the Los Angeles community, and in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, where he a Barbara lived for 62 years. He was a member of the local Kiwanis Club and was very supportive of the annual La Cañada Flintridge Rose Parade float entry. He was a patron of LA Opera and eager volunteer of the Opera League of Los Angeles. For years Jack hosted Opera League gatherings for the San Gabriel Valley region. He was a supporter of the Pasadena Symphony, the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Pasadena Pops.

Jack felt driven to give back to his community, whether by helping his neighbors or supporting community institutions. He made it a point to try to understand everyone's point of view, and to avoid unkind comments about anyone; to live a rich and full life, and make other's lives fuller through kind acts. Jack was honored to receive the Les Tupper Award in 2003 due to his many community activities. He was also the recipient of the Gil Smith Award from the La Cañada Flintridge Kiwanis. Jack and Barbara belonged to the La Cañada Flintridge United Methodist Church, where Jack served as a trustee for many years. He could also be found on Sunday mornings in the church choir.

Click here to make a donation in memory of Jack Dawson.

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Author: Thomas Lady
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