Thomas F. Dawson Sr., 89, of Carteret Landing, Morehead City, NC passed away peacefully on Monday, February 10, 2020, at Carteret Health Care.
His funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 17, 2020, at Munden Funeral Home in Morehead City, NC. Interment will follow at Gethsemane Memorial Park. At 1 p.m., lunch will be available at Munden Funeral Home, catered by Tom’s favorite- Smithfield's Chicken & Bar-B-Que.The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Monday, February 17, 2020, at Munden Funeral Home.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, he was the son of the late John Edward Dawson and Maymie Louise Jones of Jasper and Marion county, Tennessee.
Tom graduated with honors from Oceana High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia (1949), subsequently joined the navy- fire control technician on the USS Salem 1949-53 (Korean War). After the navy, Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech (formerly Virginia Polytechnic Institute )in Blacksburg, VA. His professional career began at Cherry Point, NC during the 1950’s as a flight test engineer. In 1959, the family moved to Long Island, New York where he was employed as an Aircraft Flight Test Engineer for high performance military aircraft for Hazeltine Corporation.
Tom and Barbara lived in numerous states during their 53 years of marriage including Pasadena, CA (Jet Propulsion Lab), Cape Canaveral, Florida and then resided in Millis, Massachusetts for 30 years. He was employed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA; Center for Space Research, Laboratory for Nuclear Science and C.S. Draper Laboratories. The focus of much of Tom’s professional career was on interplanetary probes and plasma instrumentation in spacecraft environments. The plasma experiment which he developed was launched aboard Pioneer 6 in 1965 which still sends back information to scientists from the outer reaches of the solar system. The Voyager II was a special mission because his plasma experiment visited four planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. His experiments flew on many other spacecrafts including Mariner Mars, Pioneer, Apollo, SAS, OSO. During his time at CS Draper Labs in Cambridge, MA. Tom was involved in the transfer of inertial guidance technology for Trident and MX Peacekeeper Missiles.
Tom’s biography has been included in science textbooks and Who’s Who of Engineering. He has several publications and patents and has been the recipient of many scientific awards, honors and fellowships. He was one of the founding members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) in the late 1970’s, and has held positions of past President, Chairman Emeritus, Winds of Change magazine, and was a long time Sequoyah Fellow in the organization which promotes STEM education among Native American students.
Tom was an avid fisherman and spent his retirement years fishing and hunting with friends while accumulating many trophy catches and good eats. His highlight was catching a trophy 96” sailfish and 116” live marlin during a fishing trip to Costa Rica. He also enjoyed gardening, telling fishing stories and watching outdoor shows on TV. He and his fishing stories will be missed.
He is survived by his children, Dr. Linda J Dawson of Chapel Hill, NC and Thomas F Dawson Jr. and wife Sharon of Holly Springs, NC; grandchildren, Rebecca and Zachary Dawson, Eric McGorrill-Glass, Jessica Glass, Sarah Glass and John Glass; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara Barbee Dawson; oldest daughter, Sheryl A Dawson; and his brother Edward M. Dawson.
Memorial donations may be made in Tom’s name to the American Heart Association at P.O. Box 744806, Atlanta, GA 30374 or the American Diabetes Association at 2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22202 or the charity of your choice.
Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at www.mundenfuneralhome.net
Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory in Morehead City, NC.
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American Heart Association
P. O. Box 744806, Atlanta GA 30374-4806
American Diabetes Association
2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 900, Arlington VA 22202