Cover photo for Kirby Scott Dawson Jr.'s Obituary

Kirby Scott Dawson Jr.

Kirby Scott Dawson Jr.



Kirby Scott Dawson Jr. passed away peacefully after a short illness, the evening of Friday, March 20, 2020, in Boise, Idaho, with his loving daughter, Christa, by his side.
Born August 17, 1934 to Kirby Scott Dawson Sr. and Eleanor Jean Dawson. Kirby grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a child of the depression, and lived through rationing during World War II, experiences which informed his direction in life and his pursuit of solidity and security in his work. After graduating from East High School in Salt Lake City, Kirby studied mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, graduating in 1958. He moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho after college to work as a Nuclear Engineer for E.G.& G. at what is now the Idaho National Laboratory, where he worked until his retirement. His time there included assignments as a DOE contractor in both Germantown, Maryland and Boulder, Colorado.
An avid skier, Kirby was a decades-long member of the American Association of Ski Instructors, and even spent a season training with the French mountaineers in Chamonix, France. He was instrumental in the early days of Kelly Canyon Ski Resort outside of Idaho Falls. He started and ran the “Snoopy Ski School” and even named some of the hill’s runs including “Slithery Dee” and “Pinto Buffalo.” He later ran the ski school at Taylor Mountain, instilling his love of the sport in thousands of people during his life. He even studied and perfected ski ballet, much to the delight of his children and casual observers on the mountain.
Kirby was also a pioneering skydiver, a Jumpmaster and Star Crest Solo award recipient, completing dozens of formation jumps (“stars”) of up to 12 people while always doing his best to execute a “standing landing” for his kids who cheered from the ground. He completed nearly 700 jumps. Like his mother Eleanor, he was a scratch golfer well into his later years, achieving at least a couple holes in one during his years on the links. He loved the outdoors most of all, whether skiing and hiking, mountain climbing, camping and fishing, golfing, tending his lush vegetable garden or his raspberry canes, hunting arrow-heads in the southern Idaho desert (with a split-point ski pole to fend off the rattlesnakes) and bringing home “horny toads” for his kids, cutting firewood and picking huckleberries in the forests above Heise Hot Springs, or setting traps for crawdads in a mountain stream. Legacies (especially including his love for huckleberries and his endless quest for the perfect berry pie recipe) he passed along to his three children.
Kirby lived life robustly and with zest, and had endless stories to show for it. From the black powder experiments with friends at age 17 that resulted in perhaps his most memorable physical feature—his three-fingered left hand, and his adventures hopping trains, sneaking onto Augusta National Golf Course through an irrigation culvert (the week before the Master’s),  sleeping off a rager in a jump plane on a tarmac only to be awakened by the police, climbing onto a neighbor’s house to pick apples and losing most of his top teeth to the clothesline when she sprayed him down with the hose, or escaping a smoking fine in the Denver airport by telling security he was an “undercover officer, making sure they were doing their job” (and then giving the officer a dollar as a tip). Kirby could regale friends and family for hours with stories, limericks, and old songs, and his quips, quotes, and catch phrases (hot as two-dollar pistol, cold as a witch’s tit, ass over tea-kettle, hotter than seven hundred dollars) live on as “fiction and fact from Dawson’s almanac.” As a child he enjoyed spin tops and picked them back up as an adult, teaching his children, grandchildren, and even nieces and nephews the fine art of spinning a top. He and Christa held top demonstrations in Tautphus Park, where she acted the part of a heckler in their well-rehearsed show, goading him to “do better” to the shock of those in the audience. At Christmas he would don a Santa hat and spin his top in the mall to the delight of shoppers and their children.
Kirby’s faith in Christ became the driving force in the second half of his life, and he will always be remembered by family and friends as endlessly kind, funny, loving, adventurous, and curious. Kirby was preceded in death by his loving wife of nearly forty years - Teri Dawson (Thompson), whom he cared tenderly for as he lost her to Alzheimer's last September; and his sister, Patsy Arnold (Salt Lake City).  He is survived by his sister, Mary Lynne Edison (Salt Lake City); his children: Britiney Slaughter (Mike) of Boise; Brandon Dawson (Sarah Rose) of Cincinnati, Ohio; Christa Arnstam (David) of Boise; and his eight grandchildren - Dawson, Mason, and Jordan Slaughter; Avian Dawson and Oliver Dawson-Nordgren; and Amelia, Catherine, and Isaac Arnstam. He instilled a love of gardening, skiing and adventure in his children and grandchildren that we are heart-broken to carry on without him. He will be deeply missed. A gathering to honor and remember his life will be held at a later date.
“You’re wounded!” “Nay,” the soldier’s pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
“I’m killed, Sire!” and his chief beside
Smiling the boy fell dead.
- Robert Browning
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