Subscribe to Spirit Magazine

Marilyn and the late Bob Dawson ’53 established an important legacy at Texas A&M University through the creation of a President’s Endowed Scholarship in 1983. Since its inception, that scholarship has supported 13 Aggies as they earned their undergraduate degrees, many of whom later achieved substantial professional success.

Over the years, their first scholarship recipient, Michele Mobley ’87, has held a special place in the Dawsons’ lives. Marilyn and Michele enjoy a strong and supportive friendship—and Marilyn turned to Michele, now a tax and estate planning attorney with DuBois, Bryant & Campbell in Austin, to probate Bob’s estate in 2014.

Prompted by the resurfacing of letters they’d written each other over the years, they recently sat down with me to reflect on their longstanding relationship and the scholarship’s impact.

Marilyn Dawson and Michele Mobley reflect on their 40-year friendship sparked by a President’s Endowed Scholarship, highlighting the enduring bond that can take shape between donors and scholars.

Marilyn: It was strictly Bob’s decision to create this scholarship. As an Aggie petroleum engineer, he had found success in his oil and gas business. He always said he owed his success to his Texas A&M education, but he liked to joke that if girls had been on campus during his time in the 1950s, he would not have focused enough to make it through school!

Michele: I was lucky to be the first recipient, and I was required to write my donor during my time at Texas A&M. While Bob established the scholarship, it was Marilyn—who is not an Aggie—who carried it forward by communicating with me and other students after me. She made it something special over a sustained number of years.

Marilyn: I always loved the students and wanted to keep up with them. It’s been just fantastic to watch them bloom.

Michele: I appreciated that you always took the time to write really substantive letters. You wouldn’t just say, “Happy Holidays from the Dawsons.” You actually took the time to write about your life and ask about me. And you welcomed me into your family.  

Marilyn: Michele actually took her first solo road trip from College Station to our hometown in Portland, Texas, for a weekend so my two girls, who were then 17 and 16, could take her to the beach.

Michele: I remember that. I had just graduated from high school at 17. It was the summer before my freshman year of college, and it was a big deal that my parents allowed me to go on a four-hour drive down to the coast to be with your family. Your daughters did a charming job of showing me around and made me feel very welcome.

Marilyn: That was just the start of our relationship. Over the years, I kept a file of our letters, pictures we exchanged, other mementos and even the blank check stubs where Bob made the scholarship contribution. Recently, as you know, I sent you a packet of these things I came across as I was downsizing my home.

Marilyn surprises Michele by revealing a few photos still in her possession, including Michele’s high school graduation picture (which Marilyn had received in the Texas A&M Foundation packet announcing the couple’s first scholarship recipient in 1983) and shots of Michele’s children when they were younger.

Michele: Ah, apparently, you sent me only some of what you had; I thought it was everything. Receiving the packet was a complete surprise. When I opened it, I was touched to find letters and photos from years gone by. Just the fact that you had kept our correspondence all those years was so meaningful. I’m glad it turns out you didn’t part with everything.

Receiving that packet reminded me that our relationship has been a terrific example of the power of these scholarships, which is even more meaningful to me now as a member of the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees. As a scholarship recipient, I got to connect with a family that obviously cared about higher education. And if both sides are willing to develop a multiyear relationship that extends past the student years, it’s a window into another world. The Dawson family is very different from my family, and getting to know them during a formative time in my life was such a wonderful experience. You and Bob were so gracious to me for so many years.

Marilyn: Well, my desire was always to treat each scholarship recipient as another child. I always wanted to set another place at the table for you and all our students.

Watch our three-part Giving Academy video series to discover how you can create a customized endowed scholarship to benefit Aggies or contact Al Pulliam ’87 at the bottom of this page to get started on your gift today.

Watch the Giving Academy

  • Al Pulliam '87

  • Assistant Vice President of Development
  • Scholarships
  • Call: 979.209.0867

Make Your Impact

Give Now