- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald Shelton Dawson, who was a special executive assistant to President Harry S. Truman, died of a stroke Dec. 25 at his home in Bethesda. He was 97.

Gen. Dawson was the first enlisted man graduating from the Air Force Officers Candidate School to be appointed brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.

Born in El Dorado, Mo., he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1930. He received a law degree from George Washington University in 1938 and was admitted to the D.C. Bar and U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

After serving as an examiner in the closed bank section of the Reconstruction Finance Corp. (RFC) in charge of “trouble loans,” he was appointed as an administrative assistant to Federal Loan Administrator Jesse H. Jones and as director of personnel of the RFC in 1939.

Serving in both positions, he directed the personnel organization, development and management for other organizations, including the Defense Supplies Corp. and the War Damage Insurance Corp. before World War II.

In that time, the personnel strength of those organizations increased from 3,000 to more than 120,000. At the end of the war, he returned to RFC, where he had the responsibility of placing returning service members in their old positions and reducing overall personnel strength to peacetime levels.

In May 1943, he was inducted as a private into the Army by preference, although he had been offered commissioned-officer rank in both the Army and Navy. He was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1943.

He was discharged from active duty in 1946, but continued in the Air Force Reserve. He was promoted to major general in 1966 and retired in 1970.

In 1947, he was appointed administrative assistant to Mr. Truman. He was responsible for all presidential appointments to positions in the executive branch. He also served as director of the Liaison Office for Personnel Management in the Office of the President and was responsible for all federal personnel management in the executive branch.

He was one of the architects of Mr. Truman’s 1948 whistle-stop presidential campaign and also served as chairman of the White House Loyalty Review Board.

From 1953 to 1980, he was senior partner of the D.C. law firm of Dawson, Riddell, Taylor, Davis and Holroyd, where he practiced with emphasis on corporate, governmental and legislative matters.

At the time of his death, Gen. Dawson was the senior lawyer in Donald S. Dawson and Associates in Bethesda.

Gen. Dawson represented the D.C. Transit system during its takeover by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

He is survived by his third wife, Virginia J. Dawson, of Bethesda; a son, Robert H. Fox of West Palm Beach, Fla.; two daughters, Diana Star Coyner Dawson of Boca Raton, Fla., and Virginia R. Fox of New York City; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Burial will be Feb. 13 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ethel H. Dalton, 86,meeting planner

Ethel H. Dalton, a longtime resident of the District, died Dec. 9 of pneumonia at the Wicomico Nursing Home in Salisbury, Md. She was 86.

Mrs. Dalton was born and raised in Baltimore.

She had a long career working for trade associations, much of it as a meeting planner with a calcium-chloride association.

Her husband, William Leroy Dalton, was a veteran trade association executive and consultant in the District.

Mrs. Dalton is survived by her sister, Virginia Haynes Bentz; a stepson, William Lee Dalton of Naples, Fla.; and a stepdaughter, Catherine McGlathery of North Las Vegas, Nev. Her husband died in 1998.

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