Thursday, June 3, 2004

Neighbors help to buy funeral for slain man

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sandra Cooper keeps a collection pail next to the register at the Corner Market to help the family of Vincent "Jamie" Dawson. Dawson was found dead in Devou Park May 25. His family has lived in the neighborhood for decades.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
COVINGTON - When James and Myrtle Dawson expressed concern about being able to pay for their slain son's funeral, the Corner Market put out a collection pail.

"It's just that kind of store," said Sean McDonald, a Cincinnati librarian who moved to the neighborhood several years ago. "They do it for all neighborhood families who have trouble paying for the funeral arrangements of their relatives."

The convenience store at Sixth and Craig streets, with its dusty old wood-plank floors, is a relic from an era before superstores. McDonald said men still gather in the store during hot afternoons to play cards or watch television.

"It's the focal point for a little section of Covington," said McDonald. "It is a place where information gets traded."

When news spread of Vincent James Dawson, 27, being found shot dead on May 25 in Devou Park, the store started collecting money for the longtime Covington family.

"Funeral arrangements are very expensive today," said store clerk Sandra Cooper, whose sister owns the store. "We are just trying to help out the family. It's the right thing."

Cooper said Dawson was an occasional customer since being released on Feb. 13 from prison on a car theft conviction, according to court records.

Sgt. Teal Nally, spokesman for Covington police, said detectives have ruled out suicide but have no suspects in the killing.

"It is still an active investigation," Nally said. "There are people we are looking at, and people we want to talk to."

Dawson's older brother, Donny Dawson, said he is grateful for the support of the community, including the Corner Market.

McDonald said the market supports everyone in the community, including newcomers who are rehabbing the surrounding homes.

"The store functions as a kind of collective memory, and as such is an essential part of the glue that holds people together and makes a community a community rather than a series of real estate transactions," said McDonald.

Dawson said his parents, who have lived in the 1500 block of Maryland Avenue for about three decades, couldn't cover all the funeral expenses.

"We have had a lot of support," said Donny Dawson. "Everyone has helped us out. The funeral procession was over a mile long (Tuesday). The preacher said it was one of the biggest funerals he had presided over."

There will be a final fund-raiser starting at 1 p.m. today at Joe's Sports Bar in Newport. Organizer Donny Dawson will raffle items such as autographed sports memorabilia.

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call police at (859) 292-2234.


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