TRIBUTE: Keith Dawson, 105, leaves a lasting legacy and a road map to happiness

A full life: Keith Dawson passed away aged 105 years. He will leave a lasting legacy.
A full life: Keith Dawson passed away aged 105 years. He will leave a lasting legacy.

In one of his final interviews as part of his 105th birthday in May, Keith Dawson said he planned on joining his late wife on a "tour around the world in a boat".

Keith passed away at Emmaus Nursing Home on Friday December 7.

One of Port Macquarie's true champions, Keith is being remembered as effervescent and lively. He wanted nothing more than to laugh and to help others.

Two of his daughter's Ann Grant and Kathie Taylor said all the family was feeling his passing.

"It is like a bit of a light has gone out," Kathie said.

"He left such an incredible mark, he epitomised kindness, he was a real gentleman and he loved to laugh and he loved his family.

"We are all just so grateful to have had him as our dad.

"We just can't say enough about him. He just had a kind word about everyone."

We are all just so grateful to have had him as our dad.

Ann Grant and Kathie Taylor

Ann said her dad was known as the mayor of Marsden, when he lived in Marsden Crescent.

"He did Neighbourhood Watch, he taught kids to swim and he was the keeper of everyone's house keys," she said.

"And he mowed people's lawns too. One day we turned up to see him and he was getting ready to mow his neighbour's lawn.

"Dad was in his 90s and despite it being terribly hot, he was going to mow the lawn because the neighbour wasn't well enough.

"He had this knack of just endearing himself to everyone he met," she said.

And that was one of Keith's best attributes: his ability to bring people into his circle.

He lived by a now-defunct creed of give and take a bit and enjoy doing it.

During the Port News' annual birthday interviews with Keith he constantly reiterated his belief that happiness is the key to any marriage.

"There needs to be more smiling and laughing," he would say.

There needs to be more smiling and laughing.

Keith Dawson

He was always active, swimming often and sailing the seas.

“I used my time doing things I wanted to do,” he said.

His only gave up his driver’s licence at the age of 103.

Keith Sorrell Dawson was born in New Zealand on May 24, 1913. He spent the last 40 years of his life in Port Macquarie.

On his 24th birthday, he set off with a friend from Mechanic’s Bay in Auckland in a 26 foot E class keeler called Roxane.

Their destination was Sydney, and they became the first to ever sail the distance in a vessel of that size.

Further adventures awaited when the young New Zealander arrived in Australia.

On the day he arrived in Sydney Harbour there was a dance being held at one of the clubs. That night he met a striking redhead called Betty Addison. 

The couple were soon married and raised three daughters, Denise, Ann and Kathleen. There are seven surviving grandchildren and nine grandchildren in the extended family.

Happy days: Keith Dawson celebrating his 104th birthday.

Happy days: Keith Dawson celebrating his 104th birthday.

The family lived in Sydney for many years where Keith, who was trained as a carpenter, worked a number of different jobs.

“I did a lot of different kinds of work - not because I got sacked - but because I’ve always liked change,” Mr Dawson said in an interview on his 100th birthday.

The highly skilled worker was engaged on repairing ships after the Second World War.

He and Betty retired in 1971, and the couple relocated to Port Macquarie in 1976.

There was little chance for rest, with Mr Dawson observing a morning daily routine of rising at 5am for a walk and swim in the ocean.

Sadly, after 73 years of marriage, Mrs Dawson passed away in June 2011. 

With his three daughters Denise Kewin, Ann Grant and Kath Taylor he said family had played an important role in his life.

My family have always been very protective of me, but that's not to say they didn't let me do anything.

Keith Dawson

"My family have always been very protective of me, but that's not to say they didn't let me do anything. 

"I've done some pretty mad things but they've always encouraged me," he said. 

"I've had a very happy life and I've set a goal to reach 110."

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and mayor Peta Pinson were counted as friends.

Ms Pinson described Keith as "an extraordinary man" who had seen and experienced of lot of life.

"For those who knew and loved him, he will be greatly missed," the mayor said.

"We have comfort in knowing he is now with his beautiful wife. 

"On behalf of the community we send our condolences to his family."

The Port News hopes Keith and Betty can now enjoy their world tour together.

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