Monday, March 19, 2007

About Dawn (a brief bio)

:: dawn ::
Dawn was born into a 1953 industrialized Ohio “where the river caught fire” and experienced America’s brand of grinding poverty before moving to a better life in Satellite Beach, Florida and enjoying a good high school.

Both her parents were former military. Don, her dad, was a hard edged soul, terrifying to the eldest two, Sam and Dawn, but mellowed with age while raising their youngest sibling, Carla. He died recently, in Nashville, having reconnected with his children. Her mom, Glenys, died unexpectedly early, like Dawn did, in her 50s, leaving behind a second husband, Bud, whom Dawn was able to visit shortly before she died.

:: dawn & carla ::
Dawn moved to Portland from Florida after the riotous 1960s, strongly anti-war, having attended Florida State and tending to vets in psych wards, while her then-husband Tom served in Vietnam. She had witnessed severe child abuse at a neighbor’s in Ohio, and was scarred for life by a distrust of men. She'd become an effective activist in the feminist, gay rights and right to choose movements. She later took the name Wicca as a reminder to stay wise. Before leaving Tallahassee, she became a mother.

:: don ::
While helping to parent Alexia after an uneasy divorce giving her ex custody, Dawn found a new spiritual path, including a Lakota-informed training she undertook with √Člise, her horse-raising partner. She also developed her skills as a bookkeeper, doing fund accounting for nonprofits. Auditors loved her for her clear books, while clients loved her economy and efficiency. She joined the Center for Urban Education, a 501(c)(3), where she met Kirby, her husband to be, and the Multnomah Meeting Quakers.

Her final chapters were focused on family, spirituality, and travel, plus getting some perspective on her journey thus far. Sacred sites were her passion. She made pilgrimages to holy wells in Ireland, sites around Glastonbury, and years earlier to a Tantric Buddhist temple to Tara in Bhutan, a family home at the time.

:: dawn, carla, sam ::
When Kirby’s parents, Carol and Jack, later moved to Lesotho in Southern Africa, she took along both daughters, Tara then only five weeks old. On a later visit with family, Dawn traveled to Durban for a workshop with the Dalai Lama, and then attended the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town as a member of our Quaker delegation. The 1995 Buckminster Fuller Centennial in San Diego was another highlight.

Dawn’s breast cancer was of an especially vicious variety doctors fear, but know how to treat ever more successfully. Her health team at Providence, professional to the core, gave her three more years of this wonderful life, a great blessing to the family, which needed this time to both heal and prepare.

Even while struggling with her disease, Dawn set up a new bookkeeping collaborative with her friend Phyllis. She spoke often of how it felt to be the oldest person at some meetings, and with great enthusiasm for the up and coming talent, a next generation of conscientious, skilled activists.

Dawn’s final days in March of 2007 were according to plan. Her wish all along had been for enlightenment, for teachers, for community. She died at home in the presence of family and good friends. We will always love her and honor her memory, may her soul be at peace, ho mitakuye oyasin.

:: kirby, dawn ::

Related Reading:
In Memory of Dawn by Patricia Kenworthy (Dawn's cousin)