Nelder Dawson

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Arthur Nelder Dawson, Jr.
Born (1928-12-18)December 18, 1928
Alexandria
Rapides Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died November 18, 2006(2006-11-18) (aged 77)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Occupation Executive of Alexandria Daily Town Talk
Religion Episcopalian
Spouse(s) Billie Maxwell Dawson
Children Stacey Blum (born 1962)
Catherine Gitter (born 1969)

Arthur Nelder Dawson, Jr. (December 18, 1928 – November 18, 2006),[1] was an award-winning newspaper executive and civic leader in Alexandria, Louisiana, during the second half of the twentieth century. He was a 50-year career employee[2] of his hometown newspaper, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, having worked in circulation, advertising, and human resources management. He started with the company as a youthful newspaper carrier and continued to advance up the ranks.

A board member of the Southern Classified Managers Association and a past president and life member of the Newspaper Personnel Managers Association, Dawson was recognized in 1991 by the Louisiana Press Association with inclusion in the group's "50-Year Club." Dawson's later newspaper duties including the recruitment of reporters and photographers, most being recent college graduates who were seeking a start in journalism in the small- to medium-sized market that Alexandria offers.[3] In that capacity, he often worked with the newspaper's veteran managing editor and later executive editor Adras P. LaBorde, I and business editor Cecil Williams. During much of Dawson's tenure, the newspaper was owned by the family of Joe D. Smith, Jr., and his first wife, Jane Wilson Smith, of Alexandria. Smith, like Dawson, completed a half century with the paper. When Smith retired in 1996, the newspaper was purchased by a firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, which subsequently sold to Gannett. With some 40,000 subscribers, The Town Talk is the largest circulating newspaper in central Louisiana.[4]

Dawson was born in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish, to Arthur Nelder Dawson, Sr. (1881–1962), and the former Mary Monk (1905–1993).[1] He graduated in 1945 from Bolton High School in the Garden District of Alexandria. Thereafter, he obtained his bachelor's degree from the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville across the Red River from Alexandria. He was president of the Louisiana College student body during his time there. He actually began working for The Town Talk when was twelve years of age.[3]

Also as a college student still affiliated with The Town Talk, Dawson enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard. He retired years later from the Guard with the rank of captain. In his later years, he became an avid deep-sea fisherman in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and the Amazon River.[3]

Dawson was predeceased by his wife, the former Billie Maxwell (July 3, 1935-April 1, 2000), a school teacher and counselor. Mrs. Dawson was originally from Jonesboro, the seat of Jackson Parish. She died of cancer six years before her husband expired.[5] Dawson was a vestryman of St. James Episcopal Church and a veteran member and past president of the Alexandria Optimist Club. He also served as president of the Alexandria/Pineville Young Men's Christian Association board of directors and was active in the United Way, an organization promoted by The Town Talk.[3]

Grave of Nelder Dawson at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville, Louisiana

Dawson died in Rapides Regional Medical Center of complications from a fall and heart disease. Services were held on November 26, 2006, in St. James Church, with the Reverend Fred H. Tinsley, Jr., officiating. The Dawsons are interred in Section 7 of Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville.[6]

Survivors included daughters, Stacey Blum (born 1962) and husband Alfred M. Blum (born 1960) of Oakland, California, and Catherine Gitter (born 1969) and husband Douglas K. "Doug" Gitter (born 1965) of Jacksonville, Florida, formerly of New Orleans, and his five grandchildren, Max, Ashley, and Polly Blum and Chase and Annie Gitter.[3]

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