The Obit For Bill Dawson

William ‘Lanky’ Dawson II  Tuesday, March 16, 2010

OSWEGO — William R. “Lanky” Dawson II, 82, of Oswego, passed away Monday, March 15, 2010, at Oswego Hospital, after a brief illness.

Born in Oswego, Bill was a son of William Raymond “Ray” Dawson Sr. and Ruth Larkin.

Bill was the manager of project engineers at Nestles, retiring after 34 years.

Bill was recognized as the premier athlete of Oswego, having a career that spanned more than 60 years. His father, Ray, served as the city’s first recreation director, organizing Dawson’s Radio softball team. Bill played on this adult team at the age of 14, and went on to play on many championship Class A fast pitch teams for more than 50 years, both in Oswego and Fulton, playing mostly third base. He had the distinction of getting the first hit — a homerun — under the newly installed lights at Fort Ontario. When Eddie Feigner of the King and His Court came to the Fort, Bill hit two homeruns off him before being struck out.

Bill is a charter member of the Softball Hall of Fame, and the recipient of the Quarter Century Star Athletic Award. Because his careers spanned so many years, Bill and his son, Billy, played on the same championship softball team.

Bill graduated from Oswego High School where he lettered in baseball, basketball and football. A World War II veteran, he joined the Navy as part of the V-5 program, where he was part of Operation Magic Carpet that brought our servicemen home from the Pacific Theater. Honorably discharged in 1946, Bill took a shot at professional baseball as a pitcher in the Class C Border Baseball League for three years. He returned to Oswego where he continued to play baseball for the Hannibal State League team, well into his 40s. In the winter season, he played on up to three Class A basketball teams. Late in his career, Bill earned many gold medals in the basketball senior games.

Bill was also an avid fisherman and hunter. He and his wife, Mary Lou, owned a home in the Thousand Islands where they enjoyed boating and fishing for 30 years, and he enjoyed many fishing trips to the Arctic Circle. He was a hunter for more than 60 years.

Bill is survived by his wife, Mary “Lou” DeMent; his daughters, Shelley Smith, of Camillus, and Marcia Dawson, of Waterford; a son, William R. Dawson III, of Oswego; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Bill was predeceased by a brother, Gerald Dawson, a former state trooper.

Of all his achievements, Bill most enjoyed the time spent at the home he built for his family, and later playing one-on-one basketball with his granddaughter, Audra, or teaching his young grandson, Mike, now an Iraqi war veteran, to shoot a gun.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., March 18, at St. Paul’s Church, Oswego.

Burial will be in St. Peter’s Cemetery.

Calling hours will be held 4-7 p.m., March 17, at Nelson Funeral Home, 11 W. Albany St., Oswego.

Donations can be made to Save the River, 409 Riverside Drive, Clayton, NY 13624, an organization dedicated to preserving the St. Lawrence River that he so loved.