By Heather Rivers STAFF WRITER
Tuesday January 30, 2007
WOODSTOCK – Peter Dawes died laughing.
His sister, Cindy Ellis, said her brother died the way he lived.
“(He died) very quickly, very happily, without a care in the world – that was his style,” she said.
Dawes, 71, a much-loved and outgoing member of the community, was watching Red Skelton perform on television at his home in Caressant Care, when he suffered a massive heart attack and died on Jan. 22.
Caressant Care activities co-ordinator Trena Bell was with him at the time.
“He was laughing one second and then it was an immediate death,” Bell said.
Born in Ingersoll, Dawes grew up in Woodstock and worked at Arc Industries, various City of Woodstock day camps and Towers (later Zellers) until he retired at age 65.
It was around that time when Dawes was chosen to be honourary parade marshall in Woodstock’s annual Victoria Day Parade.
He lived with his mother until the late 1980s before moving to a group home. Later, he rented his own apartment, before moving to Caressant Care.
Dawes was known for walking everywhere he went and for the sheer numbers of friends he’d meet along the way.
“I can’t begin to name them all,” Ellis said. “He was very special, well-loved and well-liked by everyone.”
On excursions from the long-term care facility, Bell described it as “like walking with a celebrity – everybody knew Peter.”
Looking through photos of Dawes, Ellis said she was hard-pressed to find one where he wasn’t smiling.
A huge supporter of the Woodstock Navy Vets, Dawes also enjoyed baseball games and often used to make the trek to The Pub on Norwich Avenue to drink Coke and visit friends before he developed health problems with his legs, his sister said.
At last Friday’s Navy Vets’ game, he was remembered by the crowd with a moment of silence.
“Peter was a super dedicated fan – with a heart of gold,” said Dave McLaren, general manger of the Navy Vets.
Right before he died, Dawes, a member of a knitter’s circle, was knitting Bell a dishcloth.
She said he came out several times a day to every activity she’d planned, and often volunteered to help her with her work.
“He was an all-round great guy, he was always there to help out,” she said.
In December, Dawes, who was missing several teeth, and Bell performed a duet of the song “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” for a talent competition.
Bell said she thought of Dawes as “a best friend.”
“I just miss him,” Bell said. “Telling people he loved them was a regular occurrence for Peter. Not seeing Peter everyday is hard.”
Caressant Care will hold a memorial service later this year for Dawes.
Deb Roloson, program director for Woodstock District Developmental Services (WDDS), which provides supports and services for people with developmental disabilities, said she had known Dawes for many years.
“He was always so independent, he needed minimal support – he had tons of friends in the community,” she said. “He is a testament to what we strive to do within our own agency – he is a role model for that.”
Dawes is survived by Ellis and sister Kathy Stevens. He was uncle to seven nieces and nephews and great-uncle to nine.
Publisher: Pat Logan
Proprietor and published by Bowes Publishers Limited at 16 Brock Street, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada N4S3B4