Lasting Memories

William Roger Dawson
Feb. 7, 1943-Nov. 23, 2023
Palo Alto, California

William Roger (Bill) Dawson, a Palo Alto resident since 1977, passed away peacefully at home, on November 23, 2023, surrounded by his family.

Born February 7, 1943, the first child of Pauline (Soltis) and Reginald Dawson, a World War II test pilot and post war Chief Pilot for Bendix. Pauline was a full-time mother. Bill, his brother Rick, and sister Mary-Ann, grew-up in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Bill graduated from George A. Dondero High School in Royal Oak Michigan. The first in his family to go to college, he earned a B.S. from the University of Detroit, Class of 1966, cum laude. He then went to William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, transferring to American University Washington College of Law, graduating with a J.D. in 1969. Bill transferred to American University, as he needed to earn money to continue law school and could work there managing an undergraduate residence hall.

After law school, Bill worked in New York City for the Defense Department and a year later changed to Chase Manhattan bank. Bill then joined Crocker Capital and moved to San Francisco in 1970. Over his career, Bill mainly practiced business and international law as an independent practitioner and served on company boards, as company secretary or as outside company counsel.

In June 1970 William met the love of his life, Lena Bengtsson on a blind date, in New York City. Lena, from a small rural town in Sweden, worked as a stewardess for Pan American Airways. On March 20, 1971, they married in Gödelöv church near Lena's family home in Sweden.

Lena continued at Pan Am allowing her and Bill to travel the world for many years. Before the days of tight airport security, when Lena returned home on a flight, Bill would frequently drive up to the Pan Am plane at San Francisco Airport and meet her at the bottom of the ramp stairs with hot coffee.

In August 1985, their daughter Emily was born and Lena became a full time mother, ending her Pan Am career.

Bill’s interest in travel overlapped with his enjoyment of hunting and conservation, both for the sport and camaraderie with those of similar interests from the US, Europe and Africa. His hunting and conservation activities lead to his induction, and later knighted, into the International Order of St. Hubertus, a knightly order of hunters and wildlife conservationists, dating back to 1695.

Since 1976, Bill was an active member of the Palo Alto Men's Club. Bill supported Lena’s community activities, including the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden.

Bill was a wonderful dad to Emily. He supported Emily’s love for horses and riding, which lead to her becoming an equine veterinarian and competitive rider. Since Emily left for college in 2003, until a few months ago, every day he wrote her a letter by hand and mailed it through the US Postal Service.

Bill is survived by his wife of 52 years, Lena; his daughter Emily (Matt Wilson); his brother Rick (Mary Jane); his sister Mary-Ann (Scott Van Curen); his sister-in-law Susann (Richard Mirabella); and several nieces and nephews. During the final months of Bill’s life, he was blessed to have Liz Pahulu help to make his life more comfortable and assist his receiving visitors.