Friends remember former Grand County newspaper man Hanes Dawson
December 29, 2008
A resident of Granby, Colorado, since 1974, Hanes Dawson, who died at age 61, seemed to have led a quiet Grand County life in his latter years aside from thrusting newfound energy into the local chapter of American Legion Alex Klein Post 88 in Granby.
This once Sky-Hi New publisher-turned-owner from 1974 to 1980 died alone in his home on Dec. 25; the cause of death has not yet been determined.
“He was such a mild-tempered fellow,” said Granby Legion Commander Russ Jennings. “He’d been such a good friend.”
Jennings and other friends heard of Dawson’s health decline in late February of last year when he suffered an aneurysm that left him hospitalized and in a Denver rehabilitation facility for seven weeks.
Dawson’s 88-year-old mother Jovan (McCullogh) Dawson cared for her son during that time, friends said.
But he seemed to have fully recovered after that, they said.
Dawson, Navy Vietnam veteran and 2007 vice commander at the legion, found reward breathing new life into his local post.
“Of all the new members we’ve acquired in the last two years, he was involved with all of them,” Jennings said, surmising that Dawson’s former central role with the newspaper had made him well-connected in the area.
Dawson was 27 years old when he joined the Sky-Hi News under owner in-laws Owen and Martha Ball of Evergreen. Dawson, a University of Colorado archeology graduate who at the time was married to Norma Jean (Ball) Dawson, shared the duties of publishing the paper with his wife until they eventually acquired ownership. They sold the business to Bill and Pauley Johnson in 1980.
Dawson originally entered newspaper work in early 1973 at the Canyon Courier in Evergreen, another of the Balls’ newspapers, and worked in newspaper production, column writing, editorial features, payroll and photography.
With a new vertical copy camera and a Compugraphic typesetter, the Dawsons “brought the (Sky-Hi News) paper into the 20th century, you might say,” Hanes Dawson reflected in June of 2007.
The Sky-Hi News remained a weekly, and its editors “tried to get everything we possibly could into the next edition,” Dawson had said, remembering nights when he’d rise at 3 a.m. to follow a fire siren with the goal of capturing news on film.
Dawson expressed hope that the Sky-Hi’s newest owners, Colorado Mountain News Media, would keep that tradition of chasing hard news.
Throughout the years, Dawson “strove to be as accurate as we possibly could,” he had said, but for one edition a year on April Fool’s Day, the late publisher provided a spoof of current events on the Sky-Hi’s front page.
“We had some fun with that,” he said.
The Dawsons hired Publisher Patrick Brower, who would become Sky-Hi News’ publisher for more than two decades after a change of ownership. Brower carried on Dawson’s April Fools tradition for several years.
Dawson became a Granby commercial property owner and manager, continuing his life in Granby post-newspaper. He and his wife, later divorced, leased oil properties in the Midwest, said long-time friend Alan Carter of Granby. Carter developed some Grand County properties with Dawson and remained friends with him. “We had some good times,” Carter said.
Dawson also found time to explore. “Hanes loved to travel and did so extensively, trying to tie many of his trips into the archaeology he was so interested in,” stated a family friend. “He loved the rural nature of Granby and Grand County and especially enjoyed the archaeological findings available to him in the mountains.”
As evidence for his love of Middle Park’s mountains, the late Dawson had written: “I wish to be scattered over my beloved Grand County mountains, so I may forever enjoy the beauty of living here.”
Dawson, born in Ardmore, Oklahoma on Nov. 11, 1947, was preceded in death by his father Hanes Dawson.
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