Dawson, 57, served on the council for one term, and had a long history of public service in Calhoun County. Before his 2008 election to the council, Dawson had worked as a deputy coroner for Calhoun County, served on the Anniston Planning Commission, and sat on the board of directors for the Berman Museum.
“He loved Anniston,” said his sister, Darlene Daniel. “He played a major role in this community in years past.”
Dawson’s service also extended beyond the public realm. He was an active member at Parker Memorial Baptist Church, sat on the board of directors for Southtrust Bank and worked at Anniston Pathology as a physician's assistant for about 30 years.
“He was so driven to improve wherever he was at,” Daniel said. “He worked hard to get where he was.”
Dawson’s work at Anniston Pathology and in the public arena came to an abrupt end in 2012, after he was accused in a lawsuit of sexual harassment by a Regional Medical Center employee who worked with him. That January, Dawson quit his job at Anniston Pathology. He resigned from the council that April.
In September 2013, Dawson and other defendants accused of failing to prevent the harassment were dismissed from the lawsuit after settling with the plaintiff. A jury that November found Regional Medical Center negligent in the incident and ordered the hospital to pay $400,000.
Funeral home owner and state Rep. K.L. Brown said he knew Dawson for more than 30 years. The two worked together when Dawson served as a deputy coroner.
Brown said he will remember Dawson for his kindness and his competency.
“He was a friendly person, and very accommodating,” Brown said. “When he worked with the coroner's office, it was always handled very professionally.”
Former council member Ben Little said Dawson supported the construction of the Justin Sollohub Justice Center, the new headquarters for Anniston police, and was instrumental in helping the city land the new Department of Human Resources building in Anniston.
Little also said Dawson’s vote helped keep the pool at the South HIghland Community Center open.
“He was a councilman with compassion for the people he represented, and he would go against the grain of the powers that be,” Little said. “I think he will be dearly missed, not just by his family, but people in the community.”
Council members were known for being combative with one another during Dawson’s term in office, but former Councilman Herbert Palmore said he and Dawson were friends.
“It was a surprise to me that he had become ill,” Palmore said.
Palmore said he will remember Dawson for having a good attitude during his term in office.
“He was friendly, and he was inquisitive,” Palmore said. “He had the determination to make Anniston better.”
Dawson was a member of the community long before his work in public service began.
He was born in Anniston and lived in Calhoun County for most of his life. A 1974 Walter Wellborn High School graduate, Dawson moved away from the community just long enough to attend college at Jacksonville State University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Dawson’s sister, Darlene Daniel, said the community was such a significant part of his life that he even named his Yorkshire terrier, Parker Noble Dawson, after local figures. The dog, she said, stayed by his side throughout his illness.
During its Monday meeting, the Anniston City Council offered its condolences to Dawson's family. Councilman Jay Jenkins said Dawson was a good friend who he served with on the city planning commission for many years.
"He cared a lot about this city and a lot about the people involved in his life," Jenkins said.
Mayor Vaughn Stewart also had kind words about Dawson.
"David was quite a public leader," Stewart said. "He gave it his all and he'll be sorely missed."
Dawson is survived by his two daughters, Taylor Carol Dawson and Sarah Jane Dawson, and their mother, Carol Hales Dawson; siblings, the Rev. David Bishop and his wife, Faye; Jo Bishop Burns and her husband, Wayne; Truman Wright “Butch” Bishop and his wife, Debbie; and Darlene Dawson Daniel and her husband, Ferris; and many nieces and nephews, according to an obituary from Brown’s funeral home.
“We just ask for prayers,” Daniel said of the family. “We loved him so dearly. Our hearts are breaking.”
A memorial service for Dawson will be held at Parker Memorial Baptist Church at 2 p.m. today, and the family will receive guests between noon and 2 p.m. that day.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.