Cover photo for Dr. Thelma Dawson's Obituary
Dr. Thelma Dawson Profile Photo
Dr. Thelma

Dr. Thelma Dawson

d. October 30, 2022

Dr. Dawson departed this life on Sunday October 30, 2022.

Dr. Thelma Dawson was born on May 13, 1944 in Darlington, SC to the late David George and Iona Elaine Johnson Pugh.  

She attended school in the North Carolina Public Schools System.  She received a Certificate of Promotion from Lincoln Heights Elementary School on June 3, 1958.  Dr. Dawson additionally received her Diploma from Lincoln Heights High School in 1961.  She also received a Bachelor’s of Music in Education from Howard University on June 9, 1967.  She graduated from the Medical College of Georgia on September 28, 1978.  

She was a member of Mizpah Presbyterian Church in Darlington, SC where she served as the Clerk of Session under the Rev. Dr. Franklin D. Colclough.

Dr. Dawson was the first African American female Dentist in Florence and Darlington counties.  

Throughout her life, Thelma was dedicated to the children and families of her community. She quietly provided free Dental Service to children who needed it. She served on the Darlington County Board of Education for more than 34 years, leading the helm as chairman or officer for several terms, where she advocated for outstanding educational services for all children. In 2019, the South Carolina School Board Association awarded her the “30 Years of Service Award” for her dedication and hard work as a School Board Member. Thelma served on the Transition Leadership Teams for both State Superintendent, Jim Rex and State Superintendent, Dr. Inez Tenenbaum. She also was a long-time Board Member of the Darlington County Community Action Agency. For her unwavering dedication and service to her community, the Greater Darlington Chamber of Commerce awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. 

In 2011, Dr. Dawson became a founding member of the Pee Dee Medical Professionals Association, Inc. (PDMPA).  Dr. Dawson was a member of the Executive Board, served as Parliamentarian and Co-chair of the Nominating Committee. Dr. Dawson's commitment to PDMPA helped the organization increase health awareness to at-risk populations and provide scholarships for students in the Pee Dee Region.  She was a mentor, friend, and a driving force behind the success of the organization. Dr. Dawson was also a Life Member of the American Dental Association & the South Carolina Dental Association.  She was the past Secretary of the Pee Dee District Dental Society. She also served on The Duke Energy Progress Regional Advisory Board for over 20 years.  

In addition to her parents, Dr. Dawson was preceded in death by her brother, David Pugh.

Survivors include her loving husband, Dr. Don Kenneth Dawson; one nephew, David Ellis Pugh; one great niece, Davia Denise Pugh; one sister-in-law, Louise Pugh Jordan (Franklin); one brother-in-law, John A. Dawson (Barbara); a special friend, Evelyn R. Graham; and a host of cousins and friends. 


In lieu of flowers, please send all donations to the McLeod Hospice House of Florence: 1203 East Cheves Street Florence, SC 29506.  

Please keep the family of Dr. Thelma P. Dawson in your thoughts and prayers. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Thelma Dawson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, November 3, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

J.O. & Annette Smith Memorial Chapel (Smith Funeral Home)

307 S. Johns Street , Florence, SC 29506

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Friday, November 4, 2022

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

John Calvin Presbyterian Church

2000 Marsh Ave., Florence, SC 29505

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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