FORT LAUDERDALE, FL., May 5. ROSEMARY Dawson, one of the Grand Old Dames of American swimming, passed away Saturday from complication from diabetes. She was 81.
RoseMary died at her home in Ft. Lauderdale with her husband, Buck Dawson, at her bedside.
Known as an intense competitor, Dawson was a top swimmer long before the passage of Title IX, an outstanding coach and a woman who dedicated her life to the promotion of the sport of swimming. Among the swimmers she coached was her daughter, Marilyn Corson, who earned a bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as a member of the USA 400 meter freestyle relay team.
"She was quite a woman," said Bob Duenkel, a friend of 35 years and executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame ((ISHOF), which her husband founded. "She was a strict disciplinarian who loved her girls. She was the type who demanded 100 percent, but likewise, she gave 100 percent."
Her father, Matt Mann II, was the coach of the 1952 US Olympic team and a legendary coach at the University of Michigan, where she also coached.
Buck Dawson said his wife was far too often thought of as "Buck Dawson's wife" or "Matt Mann's daughter," but "she did an awful lot in her own right," he said.
Born in Duluth, Minn., she spent much of her youth in Michigan, learning to swim at age 3. She swam her first mile at 7.
Dawson began her coaching career at Camp Ak-O-Mak, a girl's competitive swimming, sport and wilderness camp founded by her father in Ontario, Canada. The camp produced more than 40 Olympians and 350 All Americans, coached by Dawson and her father.
In 1976 she was named Florida's "Coach of the Year."
Dawson married her husband, Buck, in 1956, a year after her first husbaand, Bruce Corson, died tragically in an auto accident. She actually had met Buck some twenty years earlier but wasn't much interested in him. After they were married, the Dawsons formed a unique partnership.
"She was always full of life and she was always my boss," her husband said.
Dawson is also survived by three children from her first marriage. A fourth child, which she had with Buck dawson, died of Giullian Barre syndrome.
The family will cremate Dawson, but a memorial service won't be held until the summer, when it will take place at Camp Ak-O-Mak, among large groups of her friends.
A scholarship fund for future campers has been set up in Dawson's honor.
Donations may be sent to:
c/o Bob Duenkel
340 Sunset Dr.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.