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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


by Margaret Dawes

Dr. Leonard Pratt Dawes was born in Adams County in Wisconsin on April 1, 1875. He received his early education in that state and taught in its public schools from 1896 until 1899. He received his medical degree in 1905, from the University of Illinois, and held an associate professorship in the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery where he taught from 1905, until he came to Alaska in 1910.

Because of trouble with asthma, Dr. Dawes came to the west coast in 1909, with the intention of practicing medicine in Portland, Oregon. He first became interested in Alaska by attending the Alaska Yukon Exposition, held in Seattle at that time. A friend of his had just taken a trip to the Territory and spoke very enthusiastically of it. Dr. Dawes was offered a position in Wrangell which he accepted.

After two years of practice at Wrangell, Dr. Dawes returned to the states for an intensive two-year internship under the celebrated surgeon, Dr. Edward H. Ochsner, at St. Mary of Nazarene Hospital in Chicago. He was licensed to practice in Illinois, Washington, California, and Arizona as well as Alaska.

On New Year’s Eve, 1914, Dr. Dawes married Miss Effie Lenore Buzard, a well known concert artist, at Albany, Missouri. The couple came to Juneau the following year, where the doctor practiced continuously until his retirement in 1946 - on his 71st birthday.

In 1934, in his capacity as Flight Surgeon for the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce, Dr. Dawes received his student pilot’s license, at age 59. He knew that the Department of Commerce preferred its flight surgeons be licensed pilots in order that they might more capably examine applicants. He talked with Dr. Jones, Navy surgeon, expressing his interest in learning to fly. Dr. Jones stated that he considered Dr. Dawes, who was 59, too old to undertake such an activity. The doctor decided that he would show him and took a few trial flights with Shell Simmons, who declared that Dr. Dawes’ reactions were favorable and there was no reason why he shouldn’t learn to pilot the plane. Dr. Dawes had only been able to take enough time from his work for 14 hours of solo flying; after 10 hours he received the student’s private license, which permitted him to fly in any capacity, except with passengers.

Dr. Dawes spent more than half of his long and useful life in the service of Alaska and its people. His skill as a diagnostician and surgeon won him recognition throughout the Territory and in the states. In May of 1951, Dr. Dawes was named Alaska’s Physician of the Year at the convention of the Alaska Medical Association.

In 1946, following his retirement from active practice, the doctor was elected to the Territorial Senate, where he served with distinction from 1947 to 1951.

Lenore Dawes, wife of Leonard Dawes, was the only daughter of a prominent family in Jamesport, Missouri. She studied voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and later in Chicago and Europe, doing concert work and singing with a grand opera sextet. After years of musical training, culminating in her work as soloist and choir director of the Northern Light Presbyterian Church in Juneau, it was discovered that Lenore Dawes was losing her voice. This might have spelled disaster for a person of lesser stature. Instead, when her voice failed her, she discovered, in its place, a talent for poetry. Her poems expressed the author’s deep faith in God, her love of beauty, and panorama of life and death. The lively ballad about an invalid named Min who outwits all her doctors is a good example of the folksy humor that made Lenore’s poetry so worthwhile.

Harold Dawes accompanied his brother, Leonard, to Wrangell in the early 1900’s. Harold ran a local newspaper during his stay in Wrangell. He and his wife, Minnie, moved to Petersburg and it was there that their two children, Phillip and Rdath, were born. Harold served for many years as an attorney, U.S. Commissioner and Customs Officer for the Petersburg area. In 1946, they moved to Juneau where he was the Adjudicator Officer for the Federal Veterans Affairs before retiring in 1952, and moving to Everett, Washington.

Phillip L. Dawes was born to Harold and Minnie Dawes in Petersburg, Alaska, on November 4, 1923. He grew up there, attending public schools and graduating from the Petersburg High School. A year or two later, Phillip moved to Juneau where he held a variety of jobs before going to work for the Bureau of Public Roads. He stayed with them until Statehood in 1959, and at that time transferred to the newly created Alaska Department of Transportation where he remained until retirement in 1978.

Marge (Fitzpatrick) Dawes first set foot in Alaska in August, 1945, when she arrived aboard the Princess Louise fully intending to stay three months and then return home to Oregon by Christmas. Marge secured work immediately and fell in love with the country and its people. Any thoughts of ever leaving Alaska quickly vanished from her mind.

In 1947, Marge married Phillip Dawes, son of pioneer Alaskans, Harold and Minnie Dawes. Shortly thereafter, they bought a home on Fritz Cove Road where they lived for forty-two years before moving into Juneau.

Marge worked for both the Territorial and State governments with most of her service being with the Department of Education where she was School Lunch Director for many years. In that position, she traveled extensively throughout the state, visiting and working with food service personnel before retiring in the mid-1970’s.

After Phil and Marge retired, they spent time enjoying their cabin up the Taku River. They also traveled and cruised to interesting places. In September 1999, they moved to a retirement community in Billings, Montana.

Pilot Dr. Dawes

Dr. Leonard Dawes

Lenore Dawes