Whether he is stalking the sidelines and endzone of Patterson Field on Friday nights during Potter football season; holding Monday midnight madness meetings over doughnuts at Giant Eagle, or crooning snippets of favorite songs and hymns at full volume through the downtown streets, Frank Dawson is the man with his finger on East Liverpool's pulse - the one who keeps it beating true Potter blue and white. Rarely in the city's history has any man given more of himself to the community that he has loved for nearly 65 years than Digger, who in his own words, was "born, bred and baptized" on Fifth Street in downtown, East Liverpool. And it is there, that he works at the only job he's ever held at the Dawson Funeral Home. Following in the footsteps of his father, the late Frank A. Dawson, Digger serves as company president and CEO. His leadership has brought the funeral home some of the industry's highest recognition for its pursuit of excellence and service.
At the urging of community leaders and with the help of legions of volunteers, Digger established the East Liverpool High School Alumni Association. Thirteen years later, it boasts a membership of 16,000, has created a scholarship foundation with more than $400,000, and has held three all-school reunions drawing an estimated 10,000 each time. Testimony of Digger's willingness to put all that he has into all that he does is the restored 126-foot East Liverpool High School Alumni Association Clock Tower that stands sentinel over "Pottertown" tolling out the hour and a tune. A granite plaque placed at the door of the Clock Tower reads, "In recognition of Frank C. Dawson, who cared enough to inspire us all." The renewed community spirit sparked by the ELHSAA touched off a downtown revitalization project that has the city looking better than it has in years. Digger shares his pride in his hometown with his wife, the former Gretchen Beede, whom he met at their alma mater Baldwin-Wallace College, his four children, Belinda, CeCe, Dike and Cliff, and his four grandchildren.
Digger serves on the Board of Trustees for Baldwin-Wallace College, where he was on the presidential search committee and is instrumental in the annual fund campaign. An avid football fan and unofficial high school football historian, Frank penned a 685-page book detailing the first 100 years of Potter teams.
n what little spare time he has, it's not surprising to find Digger perfecting his latest card trick or offering an impromptu sleight-of-hand performance. One thing is certain -- wherever he appears, magic happens.