In Memory

Cheryl Dawson

Cheryl Bohannon Dawson, resident of Hillsboro, Oregon, died in her sleep on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Her husband of more than 50 years, John Dawson, was at her side.

Cheryl was born in Portland on August 20, 1943. Raised by Nann and Jack Bohannon, Cheryl and her brother, Frank, were surrounded by love, and lived with their grandparents for eight years prior to moving to Tillamook, Oregon; idyllic summers were spent in the tide pools at Haystack Rock, and it was there that Cheryl’s love of marine biology was born. Shortly after her mother married Tillamook County Judge Jack Bohannon and the family moved to Tillamook, Cheryl contracted polio, and spent four months in a polio ward in Portland before being released into her mother’s loving care for rehabilitation and physical therapy. Cheryl never allowed the polio diagnosis (nor anything else) to stop her from achieving anything to which she set her spirited mind: she was a top-ten student in her Tillamook High School Class of 1961, even as she pursued active roles as cheerleader, speech & debate team member, student body leader, and roles in THS Theater productions of Oklahoma! and South Pacific. Cheryl was a friend to all.

Cheryl attended Willamette University, and pledged Pi Beta Phi where she continued to make lifelong friends. In her third year at Willamette during the Good Friday Convocation, Cheryl heard and acknowledged a spiritual call to become a teacher; she transferred the following semester to the Oregon College of Education. She was hired as a dorm counselor, and met her sweetheart John Dawson, also a dorm counselor and education major, during Orientation Week. Cheryl and John were married in the Tillamook United Methodist Church in March 1966, shortly before graduating from college and launching their teaching careers. Cheryl taught second-grade in Milwaukie until her first daughter, Holly, was born in 1968. Cheryl and her family moved to Yokohama, Japan, where she served the children of military personnel in the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) until her second daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1971.

With the DODDS system, Cheryl and her family moved to Misawa, Japan; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Okinawa, Japan. In each new locale, Cheryl immersed herself in the local culture and opportunities to serve others: she became an English-Japanese language instructor, a sailing member of the Gitmo Yacht Club, an avid shell collector, a member of the church choir, passionate supporter of local schools and teachers, and a certified SCUBA diver. Cheryl pursued her interest in marine biology with post-graduate studies, served as a Navy Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor, and completed her Master’s degree in Education. Cheryl returned to the elementary classroom in 1986 to teach first- and second-grade students, inspiring them to love science and to develop their natural curiosity for the world around them. A highlight of each school year was the tidepool field trip she led; it was standard practice for her first- and second-graders to identify marine creatures by their scientific nomenclature, often surprising their own parents with their depth of knowledge. As one who enjoyed levity and laughed easily, Cheryl shared a family tradition from her childhood with every class of students: later, it was rare for her to be without an email or phonecall from former students (or their family members) that began with “White Rabbit!” on the first day of each month.

In 2004, Cheryl & John retired to Hillsboro, Oregon to assist in the care of their aging mothers. As she left the classroom, Cheryl embraced the opportunity to become an integral part of the Aloha United Methodist Church. Cheryl lived out her retirement dream of “feeding schoolchildren” with her active support of the AUMC’s Lord’s Cupboard, a food pantry that serves over 60 families weekly. Cheryl’s pursuit of education continued in her love of gardening as she became a Master Gardener of Washington County. A lifelong reader and lover of literature, Cheryl treasured a good story, and loved the power of books to take her on faraway adventures and connect her with other readers.

Cheryl loved her family and friends with abandon, just as she championed life and learning; she never met anyone who wasn’t a friend by the end of their first shared conversation. Cheryl graduates from this earthly life to one in Heaven with highest honors, having blessed the life of each person she knew.

Cheryl is survived by her loving husband, John; her adoring daughters, Holly Dawson Driggers of Austin, Texas, and Jennifer Dawson Forsyth of Mangilao, Guam; her smitten grandchildren, Elizabeth, Sophie, and Ian; her doting sons-in-law, David Driggers and John (Jay) Forsyth; her cherished brother, Frank Bohannon of Oceanside, Oregon; her nephews, Ethan Bohannon and Eric Bohannon; her niece, Heather Bohannon; her aunt, Jane Brownlie; cousins Melinda Newell, Margaret Howard, and Tom Brownlie; a multitude of grandnieces and grandnephews; and incalculable friends and former students across the globe. Cheryl is preceded in death by her father, Jack; her mother, Nann; and her cousin, Jake Brownlie.

The family requests that gifts in Cheryl’s memory be made to the following organizations: UMCOR - the United Methodist Committee On Relief; the Tillamook County Library; and the Tillamook YMCA.

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02/14/18 10:06 AM #1    

Denise Aanerud (McDonald) (1982)


I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mrs. Dawson. She was my gym teacher in Gitmo and was a woNderful influence on my attitude of women, that we can surpass challenges and rise to our highest potential, in spite of the naysayers. 

I still say white rabbit the first day of every month!!  I couldn’t remember where I first heard that, mystery solved. 

My deepest sympathy goes out to your family. 

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