Monday, April 21, 2008

RIP: Buck Dawson, 87, Promoter of Swimming, Is Dead - New York Times

From canada-ak-o-mak
Buck Dawson, 87, Promoter of Swimming, Is Dead - New York Times: "Buck Dawson, 87, Promoter of Swimming, Is Dead
Buck was a great, great man. He will be missed by thousands around the world, including our family.

I was very honored and happy to introduce my sons, both swimmers, to Buck in the summer of 2006 while in Canada at Camp Chikopi and visiting the friends from the other side of the lake at Ak-o-mak.

Rest of story:
Buck Dawson, the first executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a leading promoter of the sport, died on April 4 in Fort Lauderdale, where he lived. He was 87.

The cause was heart failure and complications of Parkinson’s disease, the Hall of Fame said.

From 1964 to 1987, Dawson helped build the Hall of Fame into an attraction that now enshrines such celebrated inductees as Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, Mark Spitz, Gertrude Ederle, Eleanor Holm and Esther Williams. Spitz is now the hall’s chairman. By his own admission, Dawson himself was a poor and infrequent swimmer.

“Buck did more for swimming than any nonswimmer in the world,” the Hall of Fame said in announcing his death, adding: “He made the Hall grow from an idea to a shoebox collection and ultimately a million-dollar operation as the showcase and archives of swimming.”

Dawson was credited with bringing to Fort Lauderdale national championship events in swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo, and he persuaded college teams to train there during their spring break. He traveled throughout the year promoting the sport.

For years, in Ontario, he and his wife, RoseMary, a swimming coach, ran the first known competitive-swimming camps, Camp Ak-o-Mak for girls and Chikopi for boys. He wrote or was a co-author of 18 books on various subjects, including swimming, volcanoes, the Civil War and World War II.

William Forrest Dawson was born Oct. 31, 1920, in Orange, N.J. His father, Cecil, was president of the Dixie Cup Company. Buck Dawson attended the University of Michigan, where he was a top sprinter on the track team. He left college during World War II and served as an officer commanding glider troops in the 82nd Airborne Division; he was later a public information officer. He wrote the official history of the 82nd Airborne.

After the war, he returned to college and graduated in 1948. Returning to the Army during the Korean War, he damaged one eye in an automobile collision and wore a black eye patch afterward.

His wife died in 2003. Their daughter, Marci Williams, died in 1999. Dawson is survived by a stepson, Bruce Corson, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; two stepdaughters, Connie Corson of Colorado Springs and Marilyn Whitney of Savannah, Ga.; two step-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.
Buck is also survived by hundreds, if not thousands of once young swimmers.

From Grant

That's Buck in the middle of the big hug. Grant, my youngest, is the guy off to the left of the photo. I took the photo from a canoe before the start of 3-mile swim race.

Buck isn't in this slide show, but it gives a peek at 'camp'.

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