Dawson, Stuart Taylor
Stuart Dawson, aged 64 of Kelowna BC, passed away on Thurs, 15 July 2010 at Hospice House due to cancer. Stu was born in Chilliwack, BC on 5 December 1945 to Canadian Army veterans Helen (née Soper) and Winston (‘Scotty’) Dawson. Oldest brother of Doug (Kelowna), Greg (Toronto) and Ian (Kelowna), Stu spent his early childhood in Prince George BC. He spent the majority of his adolescent years in Kelowna, wreaking havoc by driving cars too fast, attempting to burn down Knox Mountain, playing trumpet in any band he could and shooting pool when he should have been attending classes at Kelowna Secondary School with his girlfriend Joan Burnett and her brother Don. In short, he was hell on wheels! Things didn’t change until he enrolled in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1965 and went to Basic Training in Cornwallis NS. They managed to tame him—sort of. Stu was posted to Victoria BC and commenced his Weapons Undersea Technician training but not before meeting Ruby-Ann Tomshak at a house party back home in Kelowna. Love blossomed, then marriage and in 1967, son Scott Taylor Dawson was born. Daughter Stacey Marie joined the family in 1969.
Stu served on HMCS Stettler for a short time and didn’t enjoy hitting his head on the bulkhead every time he went through a doorway or getting seasick. By fortunate coincidence, a high-ranking officer in the Navy Band Branch passed below a window one day when Stu was practising trumpet ashore and switched him over to a life as a military musician. From that point, Stu went to the CF School of Music for two years of intense training to become a clarinet/saxophonist and graduated top of his class. He was posted to the Naden Band in Victoria where he remained until 1989, interrupted by a two-year stint with the CFRC Cornwallis band in 1977.
Having divorced in 1984, Stu met Heather Davis in the Naden Band, married in 1989 and were posted together to Halifax to serve under the baton of Stu’s lifelong friend, Jim Forde. After retiring in 1994, Stu helped build Heather’s dream home near Peggy’s Cove but they only stayed another 2 years before Heather was posted as Commanding Officer/Director of Music of The Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Edmonton AB. When she retired in 2003, they decided to move to Kelowna to be with their parents and siblings. Stu quickly re-established himself in the musical community, joining the Almost Elvis tribute band and Kelowna City Band (KCB). He formed Dawson Brothers Contracting with brothers Doug and Ian and installed cabinets, built decks, laid flooring and miscellaneous construction jobs for appreciative clients.
Stu and Heather could be seen around town playing in bands: she on keyboards, he playing clarinet under her baton as Director of KCB and saxophone at Penticton Elvis Festival. He was also an avid salmon fisherman, and a crack shot with a rifle. He was a regular at Chances Casino where people regarded him as the luckiest S.O.B. they knew.
Stu predeceased his parents. Besides children Scott (and wife Allison) and Stacey, Stu leaves behind grandchildren Brianna, Kayla, Jerryn and Rhys, nieces and nephews Remy Jones-Dawson, Drew, Mike and Jim, and in-laws Maureen and Don Davis. Among his scores of friends, he held Jim Forde, Dale Melin, Paul Mascioli and Bob Lessard closest to his heart.
Stu was responsible for providing happiness to thousands of people over the course of his life. As a musician, he fronted dance bands—both civilian and military—and played in front of Canadian and foreign dignitaries, heads of state and royalty. Admirals and Generals knew him by name and people were eager to buy him a drink, hoping to get ‘their song’ played. When in a position of leadership (formal or not) Stu would sometimes feel the need for adjusting the attitude of one of his peers or even bosses. Curiously, the ‘target’ always seemed to respect Stu just as much after, as before.
Stu lived life large, with a smile and talent as big as his heart. He wanted his friends and family to know that you made his life worth living; don’t give up on your dreams and it’s never too late to start another career. Life is too short but it is awfully wide.
Stu was cremated on 19 July 2010 and his ashes will be scattered on Lake Okanagan and Beecher Bay Victoria. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Army Navy Air Force Club in Kelowna (Rutland) on Sunday 25 July 2010 at 2 pm. A second event will be held in Victoria in August, date TBA. Please contact handstu@shaw for details. Donations are gratefully accepted by Kelowna City Concert Band Society payable at any branch of Interior Savings Credit Union.
And finally, goodbye Stu from Heather—I will see you on the other side. You will always be My friend, My love, My life.