Dawson receives Outstanding Community Service Award
Dr. Peter E. Dawson received the prestigious Plaquemine Outstanding Community Service Award at the Plaquemine Community Breakfast on March 5. The huge crowd of almost 400 people was inspired by legendary LSU gymnastics Coach D-D Breaux, who was guest speaker for the event.
“This was a fantastic turn-out and a great event for the city,” noted Mayor “Ed” Reeves, Jr. “We were also pleased to honor Dr. Dawson, who has given a life-time of service to our community, volunteering his time and talents over many years.”
Dr. Dawson is a Plaquemine native who chose to come back to his hometown and contribute a lifetime of service – both as a physician and in many community endeavors.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” he said. “This award tells me that people appreciated what I do, although I didn’t do this in vain. I did my work whether people appreciated it or not.”
Dr. Dawson, who turns 89 in November, graduated as valedictorian of Iberville High School’s Class of 1950. When he graduated in family practice in 1964, he was one of six physicians in the United States and the first in Louisiana to be a Family Practice physician. Dr. Dawson practiced for 46 years - until 2007, caring for residents from the cradle to the grave. He also was the Southern University football team’s physician, and worked at the Southern Infirmary for 30 years.
During this time, he volunteered multiple days every week for more than 15 years at the Plaquemine Health Unit. This alone represented thousands of hours volunteering to treat local residents. In addition, he recognized the need to educate and expose young black people to information that would help them succeed in life. He was a founder of the General Knowledge Sessions, which took place every Saturday at Plymouth Rock Baptist Church. Along with his peers, he volunteered his time and expertise assisting the young people in the program for 10 years, helping to keep the program going, getting speakers, tutoring the youths, and teaching them steps to be successful in school, in their careers and in life.
He also loves playing chess, and he has taught countless boys and girls how to play chess, many times purchasing their first chess sets for them. In addition, he has been active in his church, Mt. Cyrene Baptist Church, since he was 13 years old. He began serving as a deacon in the early 1970s, and still serves in that role.
Breaux, a 2017 inductee of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, has coached the LSU gymnastics team since 1978. The Donaldsonville native was named National Gymnastics Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2017 and has been selected as SEC Gymnastics Coach of the Year on eight occasions.
Individual pride plays the biggest role in the growth and prosperity of a community, she said.
“Enthusiasm is the oil that greases the whole engine,” Breaux said. "Your work and what you do to make this community work is critically important to the gears that make this community work.”
“Excellence is a destination – it’s not just a trophy you put on yourself,” she said. “It’s a moving target, and you have to be constantly be moving toward your destination of excellence.”
“We also want to thank those who performed for the crowd and helped us provide a great program – Father Greg Daigle, the Plaquemine High School ROTC, Richelle Richardson, Clyde McNell Jr. and members of the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Choir, the St. John School Children’s Choir and Senior Choir and Rev. Chris Butler,” said Mayor Reeves.
“This event would not be possible without our sponsors so we thank them also,” he said. They include Gold Sponsors Dow Chemical Co., Eatel, Shintech and SNF. Other sponsors are Acadian Ambulance, A. Wilbert’s Sons, Borden Dairy, Citizens Bank & Trust, Community Coffee, DA Candidate Tony Clayton, District Judge Elizabeth Engolio, Sheriff Brett Stassi, Senator Rick Ward, Westlake and Wilber Life Insurance Co.
All proceeds after expenses go to the city’s Project Care program, which provides utility assistance to the elderly (age 65+) who are having a financial hardship.