Jack Dawson, who covered sports on WMAR-TV for more than three decades, died of coronavirus complications Nov. 19 at UM Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace. He was 91 and formerly lived in Towson.
Born John Deuber in Catonsville, he was the son of Harry Deuber, a salesman, and his wife, LaRue, a nurse. He was a 1946 graduate of Southern High School and class valedictorian. He earned a scholarship to the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a degree in chemistry.
He then became a teacher and taught chemistry for nearly a decade, initially at Towson High School, from 1950 to 1956, and later at Southern.
He had a deep, rich voice and an interest in classical music. He began his broadcasting career in 1948 at WMCP, an early Baltimore FM station, where he worked as an announcer, classical music disc jockey and program director before a new general manager fired the whole staff on Christmas Eve in 1958.
“Jack had one of those voices that broadcast well. It sounded good and it could be booming,” said a daughter, Pamela Carr of Millsboro, Delaware.
A 2007 Sun article said Mr. Dawson circulated among the city’s three television stations, doing live on-air commercials for New Deal Optical, until getting his break in 1959, when George Rogers, WMAR-TV’s news director and anchorman, brought him onboard as a summer fill-in staff announcer.
“When you were a staff announcer, you did what they assigned you to do. I kind of drifted toward sports,” Mr. Dawson said in the 2007 Sun article. “I’d never played sports, but I enjoyed them from the standpoint of a fan, plus I liked to write. When you were in sports, you wrote your own stuff.”
Mr. Dawson covered the Orioles and Colts, as well as the minor league Clippers ice hockey team and the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets.
“He was very well thought of at the station. He was like everybody’s father,” said Harry Kakel, the station’s former production manager. “It was a transition time. We were going from black-and-white to color and later to video. And Jack was a leader the staff looked up to. In a field where talent is often not local, Jack was local. He was one of the guys the staff bonded with.”
Andy Barth, a former WMAR reporter, said: “At a time when television reporters weren’t always admired, Jack gave us all a good name. You couldn’t help admire his intellect, decency, humor and his educated enjoyment of sport. He led thenewsroom by example and setting the bar higher for our profession. He was a pleasure to be around.”
“He befriended Johnny Unitas, who was a visitor at our home,” said his daughter. “My father was active with all the Colts Corrals, the fan clubs. He also attended the Colts Corral annual convention in Ocean City.”
In addition to being WMAR’s sports director and anchor, Mr. Dawson had behind-the-scenes production assignments.
“As staff announcers, we had to do everything from selling hams for the A&P to interviewing visiting Iranians” who spoke virtually no English for a live public affairs show, he recalled in a 1992 Sun article. Mr. Dawson retired May 1, 1992, and was then covering sports on the Channel 2′s “The Morning Show” at 5:30 a.m. and on the noon news.
George M. Ward Jr., a retired WMAR news photographer, who lives in Milton, Delaware, said Mr. Dawson was pleasant and easy to work with. “I once suggested a different way of scheduling the photographers and he thought it over and took my advice. I appreciated that.”
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In addition to his daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Penny Barrick of Forest Hill and,Lynne Edel of Parkville; a son, Richard Harry Deuber of Hampstead; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.