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 Harold Allen Dawson, Sr

Harold Allen Dawson, Sr

Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Death 19 Jan 2012 (aged 76)
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Burial Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Plot Serenity Mausoleum
Memorial ID 84006756 · View Source
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Atlanta real estate giant. An icon of entrepreneurial success and a beloved family man. Dawson was founder and chairman of The Dawson Co. and a trailblazer in Atlanta's real estate industry when segregation was law. He became the first African-American to serve on the Georgia Real Estate Commission when he was appointed by then- Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in 1972. There he made a mark as a strong advocate for fair housing laws. Along with his wife, Rose, his true partner in life and business, he changed city skylines and became a philanthropist who established scholarships, mentored young people, and relished the talents of his children and grandchildren. Dawson was born in Atlanta to the late Thomas and Katherine Dawson. While still in grade school, he began working, polishing brass and washing windows for money. After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1953, he went on to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. However, a personal crisis in 1955 forced him to leave school early. In 1957, he was hired by the late T.M. Alexander, Sr. of Citizen's Trust Bank as a realtor and later went over to Alexander's firm, Alexander & Associates, the most prestigious African American owned real estate firm at the time. He returned to Morehouse, earning his B.S. degree in business administration in 1963. Dawson began his illustrious career selling real estate, and rapidly progressed to significant real estate developments including University Plaza Apartments, which was the first luxury mid-rise building in Atlanta's black community; and Harris Manor subdivision, which resulted in the removal of the controversial "Peyton Wall," a failed attempt to separate Atlanta's black and white communities. In 1969, Dawson formed the Harold A. Dawson Company, and he continued to serve as Chairman of the firm, now known as The Dawson Company until hs death. His son, Harold A. Dawson, Jr., joined the company in 1992 and became present president and ceo. In his record-setting 17 years of service while serving the Georgia State Real Estate Commission (during which time he was elected chair of the commission), Dawson was a strong advocate for fair housing laws. He was the first and only black president of the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, an international organization made up of all major real estate commissions from around the world. Dawson served as President of the Empire Real Estate Board, known today as the Empire Board of Realtists (EBR), from 1970-1972, which was established in 1939 with a mission for minorities to have the right to live in a place of choice and sell in a place of choice. He was also instrumental in changing the rules that required brokers to belong to the Atlanta Board of Realtors in order to be a member of Metro-Listing Service (MLS). Dawson passed away after battling lymphoma at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on January 19, 2012 at age 76. He was praised and remembered by hundreds days later at memorial services at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. Congressman John Lewis, civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery and former Atlanta mayor Ambassador Andrew Young who eulogized his friend where among the people to speak at the service. Throughout Dawson's career he received many pres-tigious awards and recognitions throughout his career, including the "Bennie Award" from Morehouse College, "Drum Major For Justice Award" from SCLC Women, "Business and Development Award" from The National Association of Real Estate Brokers, and "The Man of Faith Award" from his own church Radcliffe Presbyterian Church. Most recently, he was inducted into the 2009 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame; was honored as a Wesley Woods "Legend" at the Foundation's 2010 Heroes, Saints, and Legends awards; and he was awarded the 2008 Frank Carter Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Urban Land Institute for business prowess, leadership and philanthropy. A firm believer in giving back to his community, Dawson's legacy will continue through The Dawson Family Foundation, which helped fund a major renovation for Radcliffe Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, and awards scholarships to high school students who attend the church. Scholarships for Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University students are also funded by the Foundation, as was a choral room that bears the Dawson family name at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. The Dawson Company remains a strong family business today, developing multi-million dollar properties across the United States, including the 25-story Museum Tower Condominiums in Atlanta, which houses the Children's Museum of Atlanta; Renaissance Center, a mixed-use transit oriented development in Decatur, GA; developments at the Lindbergh MARTA station in Atlanta; Centerpoint, which occupies a full city block for commercial and residential use in Baltimore, MD, and The Banks in Cincinnati, OH, a $700M mixed used development. Dawson is survived by his wife of 50 years, Rose, who was the love of his life; their two adult children; three granchildren, and a host of relatives and friends. He will long be remembered within and beyond the Atlanta community not only for his trailblazing success as a real estate developer, but also for his generous spirit, his devotion to his family, and his passion for education and the arts.

"Do something even if it's wrong."- Harold A. Dawson, Sr.



Not - How did he die? But - How did he live? Not - What did he gain? But - What did he give?

These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not - What was his station? But - had he a heart? And - How did he play his God-given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer? To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not - What was his church? Not - What was his creed? But - Had he befriended those really in need?

Not - What did the sketch in the newspaper say? But - How many were sorry when he passed away?

These are the things that measure the worth of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Family Members