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Harold Dawson Sr.

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DAWSON, Harold, Sr. Harold A. Dawson, Sr. Obituary Harold A. Dawson, Sr., an icon of entrepreneurial success and a beloved family man, passed away on January 19, 2012. Dawson, Sr. is 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. 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. A graduate of Morehouse College, Dawson, Sr. 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, Sr. formed the Harold A. Dawson Company, and he continued to serve as Chairman of the firm, now known as The Dawson Company, until his death. His son, Harold A. Dawson, Jr., joined the company in 1992 and is its president and ceo today. Dawson, Sr. became the first African-American to serve on the Georgia Real Estate Commission when he was appointed by then-GA Governor Jimmy Carter in 1972. In his record-setting 17 years of service, during which time he was elected chair of the commission, Mr. 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. Mr. 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. Mr. Dawson was 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, Sr. received many pres- tigious awards and recognitions, 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 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, Sr.'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, Sr. was 76 years old at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Rose Winfrey Dawson, who was the love of his life; by their adult children, Cari K. Dawson (John Sparrow) and Harold A. Dawson, Jr. (Christina Wilson); and grandchildren Brianna Dawson, Harold Allen Dawson III, and Katrina Dawson (mother, Sonia Arena Dawson). Memorial services will be held on Friday, January 27, 2012 at 11:00am at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel on Morehouse College Campus, 830 Westview Drive, Atlanta, GA 30314. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations designated "in memory of Harold A. Dawson, Sr." be made to: Radcliffe Presbyterian Church, 286 Hamilton E. Holmes Drive, Atlanta, GA 30318; The Foundation of Wesley Woods (notate: "Alzheimer's Research"), 1817 Clifton Road, Atlanta GA 30329; or Morehouse College, (notate: "Thomas A. Dawson Endowed Scholarship"), Office of Institutional Advancement, Gloster Hall Room 305, 830 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30314.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Jan. 24, 2012
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