John Berkley Dawson, a long-time resident of Juneau, Alaska, died at age 95 on December 9 after a short illness.
John was a veteran of World War II, serving as a Lieutenant and naval aviator. For much of the war his duty was pilot and aircraft commander flying long-distance patrol sorties in the Carribean and from Attu, one of the Aleutian islands of what was then the Territory of Alaska. He often remarked that he had been shot at by the Germans, Japanese and the Russians during the war. After the war he put his flying background to work as a commercial pilot on the 1st non-stop air service between Sitka and Seattle with Totem Air Service and then later with Alaska Coastal Airlines based out of Juneau. He owned a small airplane for many years and provided personal tours, mostly for the fun of flying and telling stories to tourists. He made Juneau his home and automobiles his occupation. For a long time if there was an imported car in Juneau, he had likely sold it. The brands he sold new included Volkswagen, Renault, Rover, Volvo, Peugeot, Datsun, Subaru, and American Motors. Subaru was the brand he carried longest, as it was the one best suited to Alaska. He prided himself on not doing unnecessary work on customer's cars. He would even fly his plane to surrounding towns to do warranty work on cars he had sold. He repaired autos as a master mechanic into his 90s. In his later years he made a hobby of restoring discarded junk cars into usable low-priced transportation and sold them on a local radio phone-in show where he was a well-known story teller and folk humorist. He had a robust voice and a wry smile, and in his later years wore a dramatically long, white beard. John was preceded in death in 1999 by his wife June, a well-known environmental and civic activist.
John died the way he hoped. Using his own words, he "went to sleep and forgot to wake up."
He is survived by his sister Mary Dawson Spencer, his daughters Marion Dawson Hulen and Evalyn Dawson Hoyle, his sons Pierre Dawson and Bruce Dawson, and grandchildren Joel Dawson Hulen, Karen Hulen Wade, Laura Hulen Gordon, John Hoyle, Theodore Dawson, Tavia Dawson, and Raven Dawson and 11 great-grandchildren.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Dec. 23, 2016 to Jan. 22, 2017