Thomas DAWE
Gilbert T. DAWE
Erma Grace VIVIAN
Rev. Dr. Donald Gilbert DAWE


Family Links

Nancy Jane SIMONS

  • Joanna DAWE
  • Stephen DAWE

Rev. Dr. Donald Gilbert DAWE

  • Born: 12 Jul 1926, Detroit, Wayne, MI, USA 1 2
  • Died: 4 Jun 2012, Virginia, USA 2
  • Buried: Union Theological Seminary Cemetery, Hampden Sydney, Prince Edward, VA, USA 2

   Research Notes:


"The Rev. Donald Gilbert Dawe was a strong Presbyterian and teacher who was particularly interested in Christianity in the midst of a pluralistic society where there were many beliefs.

"The biggest thing he brought was this world view of our relation to other religions," said John B. Trotti, retired librarian at Union Presbyterian Seminary. "He was very sympathetic to the quest for God in all these other religions. He listened to the religious views of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Sikhs.

Dr. Dawe taught in India, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, the Philippines, Korea, England, Scotland and Spain, opening dialogues to discuss the beliefs that flourished in each country.

In 1972, he served as Buddhist consultant to a Medical College of Virginia medical team that traveled to India to study Tibetan medicine with the exiled Dalai Lama's physicians.

Two years later, Dr. Dawe and his family met with the Dalai Lama in a private audience and later helped with some details when the Tibetan spiritual leader came to the United States.

Dr. Dawe, who retired as emeritus Robert L. Dabney Professor of systemic theology at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia in 1996, was honored Friday at a memorial service at Westminster Canterbury Richmond.

The 85-year-old Richmond resident died June 4 after complications from surgery.

"He was my best friend here" at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Trotti said. The seminary's name has undergone several changes since Dr. Dawe was brought to Union Theological Seminary/Presbyterian School of Christian Education.

"We shared many discussions in the living rooms of our homes and in a breakfast group. We like to say he majored in letters and thinking. He was a wealth of knowledge," Trotti said. "I learned a lot from him, and so did the students."

Dr. Dawe taught systematic theology, the description from the Scriptures of what we know about the nature of God. He also taught ethics and comparative religions and wrote and lectured widely on topics ranging from religious movements to religious issues in the news.

He had served on the board of Interpretation: The Journal of Bible and Theology at UTS.

Trotti said Dr. Dawe and his wife often entertained students in their home and that Dr. Dawe was "virtually always in the chapel or at student gatherings. He was very engaged with students and faculty.

"He was very pastoral. He cared for students, faculty and staff, beyond the intellectual richness and intercultural richness that he brought. He looked after them. When times were difficult, he prayed for them and with them."

A native of Detroit, Dr. Dawe served in the Army during World War II. When it was over, "he concluded that God wanted him and needed him in church service," Trotti said.

He was more inclined to be a teacher than a pastor, although he had been an assistant pastor of a large church in Lake Forest, Ill.,

He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Wayne State University in Detroit, and a bachelor of divinity and doctorate of theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

"He opened people's minds to the fact that if a quarter of the people in the world were Christian, that God would not forget all the other people. The dialogue with them helped us refine our faith," said his wife of 54 years, Nancy Simons Dawe.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Joanna Dawe of Staten Island, N.Y.; a son, Stephen Dawe of Henrico County; and two granddaughters." 3

   Marriage Information:

Donald married Nancy Jane SIMONS. (Nancy Jane SIMONS was born on 27 Jul 1935.)


1 Compiler, age 3 years 8 months at 1930 U.S. Census.

2 FindAGrave,

3 Richard Times - Dispatch,

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