Park Owner's Agency Helped 900 Texas Families
Robert Dawson may be gone but his legacy will live on.
On Dec. 17, the 73-year-old owner of Dad's RV Park in Victoria, Texas, died.
The co-founder of Compassionate People Aiding Texans (CPAT), Dawson spent his whole life helping others alongside his wife, Pat, according to the Victoria Advocate. With news of his death spreading, now the community is stepping up to fill Dawson's big shoes, his wife said Friday.
"I was devastated when he died. He was half of me. But then so many people told me, 'Don't give up on the mission; we'll help,'" she said. "And then I realized that there's a grand plan I don't understand. His death has put us in a position to help more. There are a lot of people stepping up."
The Dawsons started the nonprofit C.P.A.T. organization – which collects and distributes donated furniture, household items and food to those in need – eight years ago with the intention of helping possibly five or six families a year, Pat Dawson said. Soon after, they were helping five or six families a month, and the organization just continued to grow.
In eight years they have helped about 900 families, she added.
"Bob was a person who never met a stranger. He treated the rich and someone begging on the street the same. He'd give someone who was down and out and unbathed the same hug he'd give a diplomat," Pat Dawson said. "And he was an excellent husband. I couldn't have asked for a better one."
Dawson was also a family man as a father to six children, as well as raising 55 foster children who were all teenage boys, his wife said. He has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
John Johnston, who knew Dawson for 50 years, said that since he met him in 1966, he's never heard a cross word come out of Dawson's mouth.
"He was the kindest person I've ever known and a good Christian. He was always willing to help others. This community and this RV park has lost a good, honest person," he said, adding that Dad's RV Park was like his second home.
Another longtime friend, Paul Browning, has known Dawson since Dawson and his wife moved to Victoria in 1998.
"A lot of people benefited from Bob, and no one knew about it. He's even helped me, but not in the financial sense. You could talk to him and you knew he spoke from his heart," he said. "He was truthful and honest in everything he's done."
In addition to running his business and his nonprofit work, Dawson was also involved in local politics, often attending city council meetings.
Recently, Dawson had spoken out against the new sewer plant location because concern about what the plant would mean for his business. However, after doing some research, Dawson had a change of heart, his wife said. Dawson was planning on voicing his support for the sewer plant when he collapsed outside the city council meeting on Tuesday because of a ruptured aortic vein. Dawson was taken to a local hospital where he died.
But the most important thing to Dawson was helping others in any way he could and bringing people closer to God.
"It's hard work what we do, but Bob always said, 'I get more out of it than they do,'" his widow said. "We wanted to give back because God had given us so much."