Gloria Dawson, a longtime resident of Cottage Grove died peacefully in her sleep December 18, 2018.
Gloria was born Gloria May Dirks on January 9, 1932 in Roseburg Oregon to Howard Hugo Dirks and Katheryn Genevra (Rogers) Dirks, Gloria was the eldest of 4 and the only girl. She enjoyed singing, dancing, horseback riding, gymnastics, boxing, and numerous other sports, all of which she excelled in. She graduated from Sweet Home High School in 1950.
Gloria married Donald Francis Plourd September 18, 1949 and later divorced.
As well as having 7 of her own children, Gloria became a foster parent to numerous troubled boys throughout her first marriage. Many of these 'boys' continued to share their lives with her through letters, pictures, phone calls, and visits that continued through all these years.
Gloria married Harry Dawson JR August 25, 1966 in Reno Nevada.
In 1973 Gloria and Harry moved to Cottage Grove where they would raise their 3 children. This is also where Gloria would begin her career as a teacher. While volunteering her time, she took some college courses and Vista training for Head Start. She soon became the "HEAD" teacher of the C.G. branch of Head Start, where she remained for 25 years. She shared one of her true callings here by being solely responsible for keeping this early educational program available to this community for years without funding. Gloria was always determined to locate and secure a new site for an upcoming school year and with the help of BFF's and colleagues Linda Hover and Bonnie Gilvin, they would collect donations, supplies, books, furniture, toys, learning materials, absolutely every aspect needed to run a classroom so that this program could continue to reach out to needy and less fortunate families in this community. Many times, classroom "field trips" were simply trips to Coiner Park where she had organized everything from activities to food and drinks. These things so important to her that she would spend her last dollar to make sure it happened. She gave everything she had to this program, the children, and the families that needed her. Never a judgement, just an open heart, compassion, & love for all. Proof of this commitment she made is the countless cards, letters, visits, and lengthy phone calls that she received from former students and their families for the past 45 years.
Besides her 10 biological children and all the foster boys, Gloria was a mother to numerous extra kids she took in over the years. She always said there was room for more. Always rearranging her home to accommodate the new live in/family member. The kitchen, dining or laundry rooms would be the newly added bedroom.
She was an avid sports mom. She made it possible for many kids in this community to participate in sports year after year by paying fees, providing food, allowing many kids to stay nights at her home so they could ride with her to upcoming events. She and Harry would buy pizzas at Pinocchio's or the treats at Dairy Queen after hard played games or meets. She took her 3 youngest kids all over Oregon to support her son Patrick in his record-breaking wrestling career at OSU. In 1985 Bill Thompson, former Head Coach of the C.G.H.S. wrestling team awarded her with a plaque recognizing her for all her support. Calling her GLORIA "MOM" DAWSON and awarding her a 4-year letter-men as well.
From her own kids to any kid, she truly enjoyed being there to help out with their sports, school activities, or anything that would benefit kids. She was the Mom who bought the extra tickets at school functions so that any kid could participate. She ordered books through the Scholastic sales for kids that otherwise would not have ever been able to order one. She purchased enough candy bars supporting Outdoor School that she could've built chocolate houses for us all. She purchased thousands of bracelets for Bohemia Mining Days. Her support, contributions & involvement in these things were immense and will not be forgotten. She will always be appreciated for what she has given to us all.
Bingo was a true specialty of Gloria's. She enjoyed bingo and a LOT of it! For close to 50 years this was her go to for fun. She would play sometimes 3-4 times a week. She won a 19" B&W TV in the early 70's and screamed and cried as if she'd just won a car. She could always be found at the bingo booth during Bohemia Mining Days, The WOE Fair or the Lane County Fair. She was a regular at the VFW, The Moose Club, & The Elks Club in Cottage Grove and Springfield. She loved celebrating New Year’s Eve at Seven Feathers Hotel & Casino for their big NYE bingo bash.
She enjoyed many vacations to Reno Nevada, Yellowstone, Virginia City and Montana.
Gloria donated to many organizations throughout the last 40 years. Supporting numerous law enforcement, military, educational and health related charities. This was very important to her and she did this often. Sometimes writing a dozen checks a day.
Gloria LOVED to talk! From kids in the neighborhood to folks she knew for a lifetime. If ever together with friends Linda & Bonnie, you could count on a cup of coffee turning into bedtime! The entire time these ladies laughing into tears.... sometimes quite loudly. She could never just simply run an errand, (bank, post office, grocery store), without being side tracked. Sometimes for an hour standing there talking to an old friend, a colleague, someone she just saw the day before, a former student, HELL she'd talk to a stranger for that long. Many times, she was left at home while Harry made these trips...alone!
Gloria loved time with family. Every occasion was one to celebrate with family, friends, food, fun and karaoke. She was honored for several years with a backyard gathering called Gloria Fest. She loved the food, the fun and the live music.
Gloria was known as "The Queen" to her maternal side of her family and "Aunt Gloria, The Favorite" by her in-laws in Montana, "The Tough Big Sister" by brother Dale, "The Bingo Queen" by many, and by countless people of all ages simply "Grandma", a title she cherished and was so proud of. She was a teacher, a leader, and an Amazing Woman! She was a "Beloved Mother", and a treasured "Grandma, Great Grandma & Great-great Grandma".
Gloria's husband Harry Dawson JR died 9-27-03 On 11-20-51 Gloria lost Elizabeth Marie Plourd, her baby girl, in a house fire, a son Jeffery Plourd on 8-1-95 and brothers Gerald H. Dirks, died on 4-1-59 in Korea and Roy Hugo Dirks a Lane County Sheriff’s detective killed in the line of duty on 4-11-75.
Gloria will be forever loved and remembered by her children, Michael Plourd, Patrick Plourd, Joel Plourd, David Dawson, Daniel Dawson, Genevra Plourd, Barbara Plourd, Melody Dawson, and Debra Dawson. Also 26 grand, 28 great-grand, & 3 great-great grandchildren, as well as her brother R. Dale Dirks.
We were blessed to have had her hands and heart to guide us all these years. The love and joy that overflowed within her, that she so freely gave us all is something that will be greatly missed, yet always cherished. We all love you so much MAMA!
Celebration of Life will be Saturday March 2nd at 2pm at The Arc Lane County 4181 E St. Springfield, OR. Please join us. Donations can be made to The Gloria Dawson Memorial Fund at any Umpqua Bank