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Bob Dawson

Born and raised in the 1950’s in the “Little Town on the Kinnie” Bob had the potential to create a significant love of sports for most of his youth in River Falls.  Unfortunately, the opportunities for young women in the field of athletic competition in that era had not yet been fully realized because Title lX had not yet been legislated.

This was also the period in Wisconsin sports history whereby there were no school classifications regarding school size or enrollment.  The field for state tournament competitions and student recognitions put everyone in the same arena – the small schools competed with the big schools at all levels.

 Despite the inequities that existed at that time, the sports attitude that was promoted by the “Little Town on the Kinnie’ allowed Bob to earn eleven letters in the combined sports of football, basketball, track and baseball.  In addition, he was elected to the All-Northwest Wisconsin Football Team and Second Team All-State his senior year.  These recognitions prompted the University of Wisconsin to offer him a scholarship for football, which resulted in him finishing his freshman year at Madison as the number one freshman quarterback.

Unfortunately, injuries started to take their toll the beginning of his sophomore year, which prompted him to withdraw from school in the fall of 1956 when he experienced a knee injury just a week before the Badgers’ opening game of the season with Marquette.  At that time he was designated as the starting quarterback.

After a two-year draft tour in the Army, he and his new bride Merrellyn decided to return home to River Falls and finish his education at UW-RF.  His remaining three years of eligibility allowed him to quarterback the 1958 State College Championship Team and own most of the passing records for River Falls when he graduated in ’62.

Bob’s first teaching job took him to Portage, WI., where he taught sixth grade and was assistant football coach along with the future UW-RF head football coach, Mike Farley.  After only a year in Portage he and Merrelyn moved to Ellsworth, WI., where he taught physical education and assumed the head football coaching position.  It was during this time that he received an invitation to join the Badger freshmen coaching staff, where he took on the duties of offensive line coach.  During those years, freshmen were ineligible to compete on the varsity level; they played their own Big Ten schedule.  After two years in Madison, he was hired as offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator for the Fighting Sioux at the University of North Dakota, where Bob and Merrelyn and their two sons (Bob Jr. and Tom) lived for four years.

The time away from home and the pressures of coaching eventually dictated that Bob get out of coaching and return to teaching.  This resulted in the Dawson Family moving back to Wisconsin, specifically Eau Claire, where Bob went back in the classroom for three years, and then was offered an elementary principalship.  He served in that capacity for twenty-two years.

Throughout his career Bob continued his education earning two masters degrees: physical education and school administration.

During the years in Eau Claire, he served a couple of terms on the County Board, also held a position on the County Human Services Board for a number of years.  Fifteen years (ten as president) were also served on the Beaver Creek Nature Center in Fall Creek.

 Football and Basketball officiating on both the high school and the State University level were also part of his life’s routine, which resulted in three basketball state tournament assignments

The Dawsons are presently enjoying their sixteenth year of retirement on a lake in the Hayward area.