Ronald (Ron) Dawson (‘59) spent his life abroad in places like Australia, England, and the Philippines, but he always remembered his time at Mount Allison, where he earned a geology degree and met his wife Sandra. Following his passing in 2011, Dawson’s estate pledged a $1-million gift to create a renewable scholarship for science students from the Maritimes.
Growing up on a farm in Central Bedeque, PEI, Dawson began his education in a two-room school house. Arriving at Mount Allison was a pivotal moment for him, says his son Brent.
“Mount A was basically the happiest time in his life. He really, really enjoyed his time there,” he says.
After graduation, Dawson entered pharmaceutical sales, a career that took him to several countries. He also loved to travel and visited many other places including the Galapagos, South America, India, Egypt, Vietnam, and others.
“He was very much an adventurous person,” his son recalls. “I guess growing up on a small farm in PEI, he’d dream of the bigger world.”
Dawson loved cooking, playing bridge, golf, and gardening. He was very sociable, a regular letter writer who kept every letter he ever sent or received. He also left a letter behind for students who will receive his scholarship.
“I urge you to participate in campus life in some way, without interference with your studies. That experience will be of excellent value in building a strong lifestyle and career. Campus life should not be all work — there is fun to be had too,” he writes.
He also encourages students to give back if and when they are able.
“As I approached retirement, I reflected on how much I owed Mount Allison for my good fortune. This is my way of giving something back — to lend a hand to those who need and deserve it.”
Planning a legacy
Ask Bruce Blandford (‘79) to recall a standout performance from his days as a Music major at Mount Allison and singing in the Choral Society for Mendelssohn‘s Elijah with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra comes immediately to mind.
“It’s a massive piece that takes two-and-a-half hours to sing. It was just a glorious experience,” he recalls.
After graduation, Blandford continued his studies at the University of Toronto and built a career, first as a church organist and later in arts fund raising. He is currently the director of advancement at the University of Toronto‘s Faculty of Music.
Living in residence at Mount Allison meant Blandford also made friends beyond the Music department who remain connections to this day.
“Fabulous, long-lasting friends,” says Blandford, adding even his partner Ron Atkinson is now a part of the fold. “Ron didn’t go here, but he has become kind of an honorary Allisonian because he’s gotten to know so many of my friends.”
Blandford and Atkinson have also brought the University into their circle by giving.
In addition to a long-standing annual gift, they recently added a planned gift for Mount Allison to their wills.
“We strongly believe in gift planning and ensuring support for those institutions that have been important in our lives,” he says.
Long-time volunteer makes planned gift
Louise Cooke (’70) spent her working life travelling the world as a flight attendant, but she never forgot her years at Mount Allison.
A former honorary chair of the Alumni Board and the recipient of the Charles Frederick Allison Award for outstanding service to the University, Cooke has now pledged a planned gift, writing Mount Allison into her will.
“One, I was able to do so. Number two, I just wanted to be part of the many donors who contribute,” she says of the decision to make a planned gift in addition to her many other contributions to the University. “I feel that it’s important to sustain the quality of education.”
Originally from Gander, NL, Cooke is a Bachelor of Music graduate. She was a proud resident of Palmer Hall and is still connected with many friends from Mount A.
Cooke has volunteered countless hours to Mount Allison, including hosting prospective students at her home in Burlington, ON and helping build the Carleton Elliott Fund for the Department of Music. She currently serves on the Class of 1970 50th Reunion Committee.
“I’m just very proud to be an Allisonian,” she says. “It forged a foundation that sustained me throughout my life.”