Barbadian Edgar Dawson dies at 100

The late Barbadian, Edgar Dawson.
The late Barbadian, Edgar Dawson.

Barbadian Edgar Dawson, a long-standing, “very dedicated and loyal member” of Brooklyn’s Border Union Lodge #8, under the jurisdiction of Alpha District Grand Lodge #1, New York, of the Independent United Order of Mechanics, Friendly Society, Western Hemisphere, Inc., died on Jan. 19, 2020. He was 100.

According to Hyacinth Robinson, the Jamaican-born Community Liaison Officer of the Independent United Order of Mechanics, a funeral service for Dawson was held on Feb. 8 at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 225 W, 99th St. in Harlem, where he was a staunch member up to his passing.

At St. Michael’s, Dawson served as a lay reader, and was a member of the Usher Board and the Vestry, Robinson said.

“Edgar travelled nights after nights from Manhattan to Brooklyn for many years, where meetings were held at the Lodge Hall,” she told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview. “He held many different positions with the Lodge; and, although he was unable to attend meetings (lately), he was still actively involved until his death.”

Robinson said Dawson was also “an avid domino player, who ‘studied the hands’ of his opponents and could always guess what they were holding.”

She said he taught his great-great-granddaughters and many others how to play the game.

“Sometimes they won, and he was amazed that they were able to beat him,” Robinson.

She said Dawson also loved to play the keyboard with one hand.

“Everyone was amazed at this accomplishment,” she said, adding that Dawson “loved to play hymns and other favorite tunes.

“Edgar loved the ‘Word’ of the ‘Master’, and was an avid reader and student of the Bible,” Robinson continued. “His day did not start before reading the Bible and saying his prayers.”

She said Dawson attended the early Wednesday morning service at St. Michael’s, where he would be one of the readers of the lessons for the day.

“He would be there unless he was ill or the weather prevented him from attending,” Robinson said. “He also attended the 10:00 am and 6:00 pm services faithfully.”

She said Dawson’s health started to decline in the past two years, and that his granddaughter, Lisa Dawson, was his primary care provider, as well as his daughter, Mellanese Williams.

But even though his health was deteriorating, Robinson said Dawson still travelled to his native to Barbados in August 2017 for a mini family reunion, along with relatives from London and the Netherlands.

In June 2019, he travelled to Houston, Tx to see his great granddaughter, Jaiden Williams, graduate from high school with honors, Robinson said.

During the funeral service, attended by numerous family members, parishioners, fraternal members of the Mechanics Order and friends, Rev. Julie Hoplamazian, Associate Priest at St. Michael’s, said that “Edgar lived and died a happy Christian”, alluding to the birthday celebration, for his 100th milestone, on the night he also passed, according to Robinson.

In St. Michael’s Messenger Newsletter 2015, Rich Hamlin wrote: “Edgar knows every hymn and a good deal of the Bible.

“A couple of months ago, he landed in St. Luke’s with a lingering infection,” Hamblin said. “I visited him at the hospital and soon we were singing hymns together.

“What‘s your favorite hymn?” he said he asked Dawson. “There were so many it was hard to choose. He settled on ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ and ‘Amazing Grace’. Of course, we sang both of them.”

Robinson said among several memoirs on display in the church’s Parish Hall were Congressional Proclamations from Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who represents New York’s 13th Congressional District, in which Dawson resided for over 58 years, and Brooklyn’s Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, from the 9th Congressional District, where Dawson spent a number of years attending lodge meetings.

There was also a proclamation from Alpha District Grand Lodge #1, (New York), of the Independent United Order of Mechanics, Friendly Society, Western Hemisphere, Inc., Robinson said.

She said Dawson and his twin sister, Edna Dawson-Herbert, were the last of seven children born to Edward Evan Dawson and Satira Maschall-Dawson.

Dawson, who was born on Nov. 26, 1919, attended St. Ann’s Infant School and St. Barnard’s Elementary School in the Parish of St. Joseph, Barbados.

He was baptized and confirmed at St. Ann’s Anglican Church in Barbados at 14, Robinson said.

She said Dawson was a carpenter, while residing in Barbados, at the US Andrews Sugar Factory, in St. Joseph, the largest working sugar processing factory in Barbados.

“He had the opportunity to feed the mill with sugar cane, which produced molasses and sugar,” Robinson said.

She said Dawson migrated to the United States in 1951, with the help of his oldest brother, Cecil Dawson.

He settled in the Borough of Manhattan, on Amsterdam Avenue, for 68 years (1955 – 2020).

In 1955, Robinson said Dawson’s wishes “came through, when he was once again united with his wife, Euna, and daughter, Millanese, who joined him in the USA.”

Robinson said Dawson met Euna in 1944, and they were married in Barbados on Oct. 28, 1945.

From this union, she said there were six children, five of whom preceded Dawson in death. His daughter Millanese is their first-born and remaining child.

Robinson said Dawson was also preceded in death by his parents, sisters Florence Francis and Edna Herbert; brothers Jubell, Cecil, Norton and Rupert; and his wife, Euna, of 65 years.

A devoted Anglican, Robinson said Dawson began attending St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Manhattan.

But because of inconvenience with transportation, he moved his membership to St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, Robinson said.

After St. Jude’s closed its doors in 1968, she said Dawson moved to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

Robinson said Dawson was employed with the former Horn and Hardart Services Co., as a delivery driver, from 1953 until its closing in the early 1970s.

After losing that job, the former Rev. William F. Corker, of St. Michael’s, offered Dawson a carpentry job, Robinson said.

Dawson also served as a security officer, as well as being a sexton until he retired in the early 1990s.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, a sexton is “an officer of a church, congregation, or synagogue charged with the maintenance of its buildings and/or the surrounding graveyard.”

“Rev. Corker had an eye on him, and felt he was someone who could be counted on to get the job done,” Robinson said. “There were no flaws in his work, and he was well liked by the staff, church members and the youth of the church.”

Besides Millanese and Lisa, Dawson is survived by his grandson, Andre Williams; great-granddaughters, Shakirra and Shaniqua Dorset, and Jaiden and Imani Williams; great-great-granddaughters Khalia Watson and Aniya Campbell; and great-great-grandsons Asher Dorset and Travis Campbell.

He is also survived by, among others, his sister-in-law, Inez Smith, residing in London; Olga Russell, of Florida, a longtime family friend; Ernestine Walkes and her daughter, Charlene Walkes-Richardson; Sonya Thompson; his niece Rya Pegram; and nephew Emerson Dawson.