David A. Dawson, 78, patient advocate with the National Cancer Institute

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David A. Dawson
David A. Dawson

David A. Dawson, 78, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, after a courageous 20-year battle with cancer. Dave was born in Cumberland, Md., on March 20, 1938, the younger son of Naomi Rice Dawson and John Dawson. He married his wife, Marian Mitchell Dawson, on Dec. 21, 1958.

He is survived by his wife, Marian, their three children, Bradley Dawson, and his wife, Svetlana Kolmakova, of Catharpin, Va., Gregory Dawson, and his wife, Jennifer Mattingly, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Judy Dawson Moncovich, and her husband, Mike Moncovich, of Virginia Beach, Va. He is also survived by his brother, George Edgar Dawson of LaVale, Md., and eight grandchildren, Douglas Popovich Jr., Michael Wentzel, Audrey Liston, Jordan Dawson, Casey Dawson, Ryan Dawson, Landon Mattingly-Dawson and Alden Mattingly-Dawson. In making any life decisions, family always came first for him.

Dave is the unofficial poster boy for metastatic prostate cancer at Johns Hopkins, being their longest metastatic prostate cancer survivor. During his years of treatment, he served on the Citizens Advisory Council at Johns Hopkins, and as a patient advocate with the National Cancer Institute. He participated in many studies and clinical trials while being treated at Johns Hopkins. When asked to be a participant in any study, he never refused, hoping that his information would be helpful for future generations in finding a way to better understand and treat this disease. He was also instrumental in opening the doors at Johns Hopkins for many others who were seeking an introduction into their facilities.

Dave started his career in accounting, but soon found that his interest and aptitude led him into the fund-raising arena. He served in the top financial position for organizations including National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Urban Coalition and Common Cause. He developed a reputation for restructuring nonprofits and building a sound financial basis for their future operations.

In 1978, he established David Dawson Company to serve clients in the environmental, conservation and cultural sphere. The company rapidly grew to 50 employees to serve over 35 clients. Dave was most proud of his successes with organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and National Wildlife Federation, in growing their membership and insuring sound financial footings for future growth. His client list also included Colonial Williamsburg, The Kennedy Center, and Native American Rights Fund. After 10 years of dealing with corporate issues, he returned to what he most enjoyed – serving a small select group of clients and dealing with them in a hands-on approach.

Dave served on several boards, including National Salvation Army and Missing and Exploited Children in Greater Washington. After retiring to Williamsburg in 2001, he continued his involvement by volunteering for several organizations. He has served on the Investment Committee of Williamsburg Community Foundation, volunteered with The ARC of Greater Williamsburg, Avalon, Hospice House of Williamsburg and CASA.

Dave and Marian retired to Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg in 2001. He very much enjoyed outdoor activities including golf, tennis, bicycling, canoeing and kayaking. Bicycling was his first love, and he rode many century rides, including back-to-back century rides on the C&O Canal trail for many years. In more recent years, they enjoyed bicycle touring. They bicycle toured in and around many of our national parks, other places in the United States and Canada, and several European locations. And later, they enjoyed National Geographic expeditions to places including the Galapagos, the Arctic and an African safari.

Private services will be held in McLean, Va.

Contributions in memory of Dave can be made to the ARC of Greater Williamsburg, 150 Strawberry Plains Road, Suite D, Williamsburg, VA 23188.