ashland.news
April 14, 2024

Obituary: Michael Todd Dawkins

Michael Dawkins
June 8, 2023

August 1, 1946 – May 2, 2023

Michael Todd Dawkins was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to William and Martha Dawkins. His father was a writer/music aficionado and his mother was an artist/gardener. He was an alchemy of sorts.

As a child, dad read him a variety of books, which led to a lifelong passion for reading and an extensive library. Like his mother ,he was an artist. His last canvas was the arboretum he established at his home on East Main Street in Ashland. It is a mixture of ornamentals, conifers, succulents and perennials.

At age 7, Michael began acting at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He stated, “I was raised by the theater, from the make-up room to costume design to rehearsals. They were my babysitter.” When they tired of him, he was sent next door to the YMCA, now the Angus Bowmer Theatre.

Michael Dawkins: Why choose between golf or cross country skiing when you can do both?

After a brief stint at the University of Oregon and Haight Ashbury, Michael found his calling (compass) at Southern Oregon College in a botany class. It led to a lifelong passion for studying plants, their Latin names and their interaction with their environment.

Michael described himself as “a ski bum.” From the first years at Mt. Ashland to Colorado and back to Buck Prairie, he evolved from an alpine to telemark to a dual discipline cross country skier. As a longtime groomer and volunteer instructor for the Southern Oregon Nordic Club, he was recognized by the Oregon Nordic Club with the 2019 John Day Award.

As a member of the Ashland Garden Club, a chapter his grandmother Ella Hendrixson helped found in the early 1950s, Michael was given the “Award of Distinction.” He was noted for his “soil building magic” and turning an asphalt slope into a terraced arboretum at his home.

When Michael moved back to his hometown in 2002 from Aspen, Colorado, he became a candidate for the Ashland Parks Commission. He barely lost. Fortuitously, the City Council asked him to become a member of the Planning Commission, a position he held for over 19 years until the day he passed. The Ashland City Council recognized Michael with the Alan C. Bates public service award in April 2023. There were stories of Michael’s bringing together different positions to build consensus and that Michael at one time either lived in or ran by many of the properties discussed.

As an alumnus of the Ashland High School class of 1965, he maintained friendships that crossed classes. Many were forged on the track, cross country and golf teams. He coupled his athletic prowess with leadership, representing AHS at Boys State.

As proprietor of Native Gardens and Artisan Gardens, he has left a landscape legacy from Snowmass Village, Colorado, to Sunriver, Oregon, to Ashland.

Michael was preceded in death by his father, Bill (1991), mother, Marti (2019) and sister Ellen (2022). He is survived by his brother Chris and sister-in-law Michelle (Hood River), niece Steph Hoppe (Peter) and family (Hood River), nephew Joe (Kristina) and family (Hood River), and his soulmate, Kathy Fennell (Medford), with whom he shared many cross country ski and kayaking excursions.

For those wishing to honor Michael, please make contributions to Ashland Woodlands and Trail Association at ashlandtrails.org/donations/.

Obituaries may be submitted to Ashland.news via our online article submission form, or via email to news@ashland.news, with a photo or two attached if desired. Please be sure to include dates of birth and death, and reference to connections to Ashland/Talent/Southern Oregon. Please allow a few days for posting. There is no charge. Those wishing to make a donation supporting the Ashland.news service may do so here.

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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