Dawson McDaniel was born in Lee county in 1914 just outside of LaBelle , which at that time, was part of Lee County. Dawson moved to Ft. Myers with his mother and father when he was three. They lived on Washington Ave in East Fort Myers. Dawson attended Edgewood Elementary, Fort Myers Junior High and was graduated from Fort Myers Senior High School.
Soon after graduating from high school, Dawson began dating Etta Conner. Her family also lived in East Fort Myers. Her father was in road construction. Dawson met Etta as both of their families attended the Palm Beach Boulevard Church of God. After a time of courtship, they married and were blessed with three children: Barbara Joan, (Bobbie Jo Daniels), Grace Jacqueline (Jackie Mills) and Dawson Conner McDaniel. Dawson and Etta celebrated over 50 years together and enjoyed their three children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren – almost all of whom still live in Lee county.
Dawson received his Real Estate Brokers license in the early 1950’s, and established Dawson McDaniel Realty. He not only sold real estate, but was involved with some land development as well. He was an instrumental part of developing and marketing Trailer Haven in St. James City and Sanibel Isles on Sanibel Island. Both of these developments offered canal front home sites – some of the first to be marketed in Lee County.
Dawson was involved in local politics from 1958 until 1980. He was a Lee County Commissioner for one term, and then held office as our county Tax Collector from 1960 until 1980. He had no opposition for the last four consecutive terms for that office. He always said that he enjoyed being a servant of the citizens of this community. He was glad to have been part of the political arena when an individual could make a difference. He only had limited real estate activity during his political tenure to assure a high ethical standard with relation to his political position.
Upon his retirement from political office, Dawson became more active with his real estate business. He incorporated Dawson McDaniel Realty in 1982. Dealing mainly with raw acreage, Dawson developed his Real Estate business by offering personal service to his client base. Almost every listing was created and acted upon with only the integrity of a handshake, but both Dawson and his clients were tenacious to protect the bond that had been established. From the sale of a lot, to being used as a consultant on the development and implementation of Bonita Bay, Dawson’s clients understood that they were being served by a professional whose knowledge and expertise they could depend on.
Dawson enjoyed offering guidance and direction to his son, Dawson C. McDaniel when he earned his Real Estate Sales Associate license and became part of Dawson McDaniel Realty, Inc in 1972. It was easy for him to pass on his love for people and commitment to serve each individual with humility and respect. Dawson has turned over daily operations of the company to his son, remaining a corporate officer until he passed away in 2007 at age 93. In 1994 Dawson married Edyth Taylor and they enjoyed his later retirement years living in Fort Myers.
Every aspect of the life that Dawson lived exemplified a life of service – his commitment to God and his church, his commitment to his family and friends, and his commitment to his community.
Dawson’s role in chruch included serving as a sunday school teacher, church councilman, and financial clerk. Although he was extremely reserved in his worship, he carried out his roles with great fervor. Dawson was a stalwart figure who modeled “walking the walk.”
Dawson was committed to providing for his family and friends throughout his life. He revered his parents and took pride in his humble upbringing. No matter how large or small the issue, he was there to share his blessings or lend a hand of support. He could be counted on in good times or bad times. Dawson’s devotion to his family and friends was a tremendous lesson — unconditional love is a bond that keeps us together and no challenge in life is unsurmountable when loved ones are by your side.
Dawson’s role in local politics focused on serving others. He instilled pride and patriotism in being an American, and humbly viewed his positions as a public servant. There were no political favors – he treated everyone with equal respect. He demonstrated that integrity and accountability are crucial to success in the workplace and that customer service is supreme.
Dawson was a tribute to his church, his family and his community. He left us a legacy upon which to build. Dawson McDaniel was a hero. He continues to be the wind beneath our wings.