Michael V. Dawes, Sr.
Thompson, CT – Michael Voorhees Dawes, Sr., considered by his family and friends as a person who helped guide, shape, and touch many lives in a positive way, died of cancer at his home in Thompson, Connecticut, on July 6, 2010. His rich life was marked by a strong love of family, friends, learning, and renewal. The imprint he leaves in the lives of those he knew is a testament to his character and will be felt and honored for decades to come.
Michael Dawes was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 20, 1944, to Edmund Klotz and Eleanor Poland Dawes and grew up on a farm in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. As a youngster, he attended Camp Tecumseh in New Hampshire, where he spent eight years learning the love of sport and the value of camaraderie. He also spent an adventurous summer at Keywadin Camp in Ontario, canoeing from Ontario to Montreal; this spirit stayed with him during his life — he ran with the bulls in Pamplona, hiked the pyramids in Giza, and travelled extensively.
As a student at The Hill School Pottstown, Mike was also active in sports. On matriculating to Trinity College in 1962 as an economics and religion major, he played varsity football and lacrosse and sang with the a cappella group, The Trinidads. Upon graduation in 1966, he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City on a Rockefeller Fellowship Award, pursuing the study of Old Testament interpretation. Later in his life, he returned to school and earned his Masters in Education from Rider University in 1992.
Mike worked diligently for more than four decades during which time he was deeply devoted to two things: The first was his family. In 1967, Mike married Lynn Elizabeth Cameron and settled in the Princeton, New Jersey area where they raised their two children, Margaret Dawes Bernholz of San Anselmo, California, and Michael Voorhees Dawes, Jr. of Victor Idaho.
The second was Mike’s love of the outdoors; he was a fly-fishing enthusiast who learned his love of the sport from his father and an outdoorsman who enjoyed upland bird hunting. He travelled to far-off places such as Norway, Iceland, Alaska, and Mexico in pursuit of the ultimate fishing experience. Mike’s passion for “the sport” extended beyond his own enjoyment. He took great pleasure in always being a learner — enthusiastically ready to share his angling knowledge and teach others how to love to fish.
Mike’s aspirations also led him to the military where, in 1967, he excelled as a member of the PA Army National Guard and the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary. At the conclusion of his basic training, he was honored as the brigade recipient of the American Spirit Award for outstanding leadership and character. In 1969, Mike attended Officer Candidate School and was awarded honors as a Distinguished Graduate. He continued as an active member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary Army Reserve, serving as Executive Officer and later as an honorary member.
Mike’s professional career spanned from business to education and was clearly marked for success and leadership. In 1967, he joined Discount Corporation, a government securities dealer in New York City, where his focus was sales. He was an integral force in strengthening and expanding Discount’s customer base and rose to Senior Vice President and Head of Sales. After twenty-three years, he decided to continue work in finance with his father at Philadelphia Corporation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In 1992, Mike found his true professional calling as he entered the educational field and joined the faculty at Hyde School in Bath, Maine, the college preparatory, character-focused school from which his son, Michael, graduated in 1992. As a member of the Hyde family, Mike served as Chief Financial Officer, Director of Admissions, Director of Development, Associate Head of School, teacher, and coach. After seven years working at Hyde School in Maine, he and Lynn moved to Hyde School in Woodstock, Connecticut to continue their work and dedication to the school. Mike cared deeply about every individual and function at Hyde Schools. He cared about others’ successes, mentored tirelessly to help students and faculty alike, always committed to guiding his students, peers, and colleagues toward their best potential. He was revered as a mentor and inspiration to students and parents. Recently, while addressing an audience of Hyde families, Mike said, “Undoubtedly, working at Hyde School was the best job I could have ever had.”
Mike also enjoyed his work as a committed board member for various organizations. He served for twelve years as a trustee at The Ethel Walker School, where his daughter was Class of ‘89, for twenty years as a trustee at the Whitehall Foundation, and in various capacities on the Board of Directors of the Blooming Grove Hunting and Fishing Club, where he was both a member for twenty-six years and a resident. His longtime tenure as Chair of Blooming Grove’s all-important Fishing Committee resulted in significant changes to its fishing practices.
Mike will be remembered for the rich life he had, the gentleman he was, the wealth of friends he had, and for the way he enriched the lives of others. He lived his life with purpose, gusto, and laughter — perhaps his most memorable hallmark. When he entered a room, he lit it up with his passion, his cheer, and his brimming optimism. There were very few obstacles in his life — and any he encountered along the way were quickly transformed into opportunities.
Mike Dawes is survived by his wife, Lynn, his daughter, Margaret Bernholz, a son Michael, Jr., his grandchildren, Cameron Michael and Eleanor Catherine Bernholz, his son-in-law, Dennis Bernholz, a sister, Hutchinson Dawes Cummin and a brother, Edmund K. Dawes.
There will be a memorial service at the Trinity College Chapel in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday, July 24 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the Dawes family graciously welcomes contributions to be directed to Hyde School, the Michael V. Dawes Scholarship Fund. Gilman and Valade Funeral Homes have been entrusted with the arrangements.