|Birth: ||Jan. 18, 1898|
|Death: ||Jul. 5, 2001|
Great Grandson of Sylvie (1900 Federal Census list BD January 1820) and Reggie (died in the Civil War).
Grandson of Tom Dawson (1900 Federal Census list BD January 1832) and Charity Dawson (1900 Federal Census list BD April 1842).
Son of Harrison and Mattie Dawson.
Husband of Elzenia Dawson.
Father of Amelia, Novella, George, JR., Dorothy, Cecelia, Billie Jean, and Darrell Dawson.
Dallas Morning News, The (TX) - July 8, 2001
Deceased Name: Rites set for George Dawson, who learned to read at age 98
Services for George Dawson, who was the grandson of slaves and learned to read when he was 98, will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the Saintsville Church of God in Christ, 2200 Marsalis Ave. in Dallas.
Burial will follow at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, 8100 Fireside Drive.
There will also be a wake from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ, 4122 Bertrand St. A candlelight vigil for Mr. Dawson will be from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young St.
Mr. Dawson, 103, died Thursday evening in his Dallas home from medical complications that resulted from a fall in February.
After learning to read, Mr. Dawson published his memoirs last year. The book, Life Is So Good, drew nationwide media attention.
A middle school in the Carroll Independent School district and a reading garden at Sarah Zumwalt Middle School in Dallas have been named in his honor.
Mr. Dawson is survived by two sons, George Dawson Jr. and Darrell Dawson; and three daughters, Amelia Parks, Dorothy Jiles and Cecelia Harper.
Dallas Morning News, The (TX)
Date: July 8, 2001
(c) Copyright, 2001, The Dallas Morning News
Monday, January 19, 1998
The 99-year-old man who learned to read
By LARRY BINGHAM / Fort Worth Star-Telegram
DALLAS - The old man who could not read lives alone in a house that is small and square and in a part of the city some people call the ghetto.
George Dawson, the grandson of a slave, was born in a three-room log cabin in Marshall, on Jan. 18, 1898. He was 8 when he had his first job, feeding hogs and cattle. He was 12 when his daddy rented him out to a white man.
His four brothers and sisters learned to read at a school "for colored children." He was the oldest. He didn't get to go to school because he had to work.
He married in 1926 and was a father in 1927. He chopped wood, worked in a sawmill and built levees with the aid of a mule. He laid ties for some of the first railroads in East Texas. He swept floors, cleaned for white people, and for most of his working life - 25 years - ran the machines that pasteurized milk at Oak Farms Dairy, where he lost a one-time chance at a promotion because the boss asked him to sign his name and he marked an X instead.
The old man got by without reading for 98 years. He trusted the people who paid his wages, had no need for books or bank accounts, and his wife read the bills.
He married twice, was widowed twice, and raised seven children. All of them learned to read and write at Lincoln High School, a few blocks from his house. "I seen to 'em, every one. I didn't get to go to school, so I seen to them."
The old man got by until 1996, when a young man knocked on his door and said he was recruiting people for the Adult Basic Education classes at the old high school.
"I've been alone for 10 years," the old man told him. "I'm tired of fishing. It's time to learn to read."
He waited outside Classroom 103, and the teacher looked at him: He stood barely 5 feet tall. His skin was wrinkled, his hair was white. His blue eyes said he was serious.
You ever go to school?
Not a day.
Not a day?
Never had a chance.
Know the alphabet?
The teacher began with six letters, but the old man interrupted.
"No, son. I want to see all of them. I want to put 'em together."
The old man learned his ABCs in a day and a half. The teacher moved on to phonics, breaking words into pieces and sounding out the parts.
"No, son. I want to say something that makes sense."
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Monday through Friday, except for the three days he missed class to go to funerals, the old man sat in the same seat on the second row. On the bulletin board behind him, the laminated faces of Ella Fitzgerald, Rosa Parks, Alex Hailey, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Booker T. Washington watched over him.
He mastered print and moved into cursive. The first few times he wrote his name, he left a space between the last "g" and the "e" on George. He never liked the lowercase letters "f," "j" and "q."
"Them three letters, you got to put your mind on what you're doing," he said.
At the end of the first month, he could write his name. After almost two years, he can read on a third-grade level.
He likes to read at a folding card table that he keeps beside a couch that is covered with a sheet, beside a coffee table covered with a towel, in a living room so close to the street he can hear people walking by.
Now that he can, he reads the Scriptures aloud at Holiness Church of God if they ask him. At home, he reads Ephesians from an old Bible that cost him $23 who-knows-how-many years ago in Mississippi.
He needs glasses but won't wear them. The teacher told him he needs a hearing aid, but he told the teacher, "Talk a little louder, son."
For the first time in a century, he carries a brown book bag, writes with a No. 2 pencil and erases what is not good enough for him.
"I always thought I could drive a spike as good as any man. I cook as good as any woman I ever met. ...
"I'd go everywhere and see people read. I'd go places and streets I didn't know where I was. I just figured if everybody else can learn to read, I could too."
His 100th birthday is Sunday, but his teachers and fellow students at Lincoln Instructional Center threw him a party on Friday. It was supposed to be a surprise, but he overheard them talking about it.
When he opens his cards, he will read every word. Because he can.
Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Death Record
Name: George Dawson
Date of Birth: Tuesday January 18, 1898
Date of Death: Thursday July 05, 2001
Est. Age at death: 103 years, 5 months, 17 days
Last known residence:
ZIP Code: 75215
Social Security details:
State of Issue: Texas
NOTE: 1900 Federal Census list BD January 1899
George Dawson (1934 - 2003)*
Lincoln Memorial Park
Created by: Piper
Record added: Aug 09, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 74671302