Tecumseh - Reba Eldora Dawson, 90, of Tecumseh, OK died at home Saturday, January 16, 2021 with family at her side.
She was born in 1930 to John and Grace Dickson in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Her father died when she was young, and she was raised by her mother and stepfather Euin Gibson in a blended family of nine. Her childhood included the Depression, the Polio epidemic, and World War II. Her family was of strong Christian faith and Reba loved music. She began playing the piano for church before the age of ten. She graduated Classen High School in Oklahoma City and then attended Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Ok. She met and married William Kelsey Dawson and they planned to be missionaries. While in California at Golden Gate Seminary, medical issues forced their return to Oklahoma.
Reba pursued her passion for music by attending Oklahoma City University, graduating 1954 with honors earning membership in Mu Kappa Lambda along with her Bachelor's in Music. That same year, she became the organist for Olivet Baptist Church, and she held that position until 1967 when the family moved to Richmond, Virginia when Bill took a position with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. In Richmond, Reba continued as the organist for the churches they attended. She also worked in the school system as a substitute teacher, as well as teaching private piano lessons at home.
The family moved back to Oklahoma City in 1980. In 1982, Reba returned to Olivet as organist. She also worked with the Catholic Social Ministries assisting Vietnamese and Laotian refugees in housing and basic needs. As part of this effort, she taught them English and helped them get their citizenship. In 1998, the Oklahoma State Senate provided her a citation of commendation for her efforts stating, "…her dedication and commitment, and being an example of the highest of standards and ideals that are reflected in the appointment."
In 1998, Reba was also awarded the Profile in Excellence Award by Oklahoma Baptist University. This award is given by the OBU Alumni Association to a former student who has "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University."
Reba went on multiple mission trips both international and in the United States. She traveled with an older choir called the Melodears all over the states performing and spreading the gospel. She helped at the church camps at Falls Creek multiple weeks each year.
She left Olivet in 1995 when they moved to Pottawatomie County and she became organist for Immanuel Baptist Shawnee. In 2012, Reba retired due to the health of her husband, but continued to play piano for Sunday School. In all, she played organ and piano for church for more than 70 years.
Reba's Christian faith and music were an intertwined devotion and dedication her whole life. The other great commitment for Reba was her home and family. Bill and Reba wanted a large family and so between 1951 and 1963 they had five children: Bill, Becky, Grace, Daniel, and Kathleen. She has 13 grandchildren, 20 nieces and nephews, 17 great grandchildren with another on the way, and 1 great-great grandchild.
She loved gardening (vegetables) and raising chickens. She cooked, canned, and sewed. She drove like a race car driver and laughed loud. She loved parties, socials, celebrations, so outgoing. There were a million pets: dogs cats rabbits hamsters parakeets even a raccoon. She tried to feed anyone who came to her house.
Reba was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, her parents and 5 siblings. She is survived by her sister Geraldine Florence, of Oklahoma City, and all her children and grandchildren.
Graveside service will be held Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 10 AM at Resthaven Memorial Park in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Posted online on January 20, 2021