Donor Profile: Robert Dawe '72, MD, Honors Wife Jean Dawe Through Gift to the Egan School

Donor Profile: Robert Dawe '72, MD, Honors Wife Jean Dawe Through Gift to the Egan School

Robert Dawe with his wife Jean Dawe sitting at a table.

Robert Dawe ’72 with his wife Jean Dawe.

As healthcare evolves over the next 25 years, Dr. Dawe sees supporting student education at the Egan School as a way to both strengthen the foundation of the nursing profession for future generations and honor his wife’s memory.

When Robert Dawe ’72, MD, began his pre-med studies more than 50 years ago, Fairfield did not yet have a nursing program. At that time, most nurses trained at hospital-based nursing schools and the traditional practice of nursing was evolving. It was an evolution Dr. Dawe saw embodied in the nurse who would become his wife.

Jean Dawe, RN, began her undergraduate studies at the College of New Rochelle, but soon transferred to the nursing school at St. Clare’s Hospital in New York City. She excelled there, finishing first in her class, and by the time she was 26 she was one of the youngest head nurses ever at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

It was in the ICU at St. Clare’s that Dr. Dawe, then a medical student at New York College of Medicine, met Jean. He immediately noticed her radiant smile and positive attitude. He also came to understand that she was a nurse ahead of her time and that she had an intuitive sense of nursing as the profession it would become — requiring a holistic view of patient needs, teamwork, and sensitivity to the “human side” of patient care.

Dr. Dawe invited Jean to coffee, only to find his pockets were empty and he had to ask her to pick up the tab. They married two years later, in 1977. Dr. Dawe completed his residency in orthopedic surgery and pediatric orthopedics, and in 1980 they moved to Fairfield where he was one of the founders of the Orthopaedic Specialty Group (OSG). Over the years, they raised two daughters. Jean served as president of the Bridgeport Hospital Auxiliary, and later was a well-loved nurse at the Southport School.

The Dawes were active in the Fairfield University community as members of The President’s Circle — a giving society comprised of the University’s leaders in philanthropy. At times, Dr. Dawe provided his professional services for the Fairfield men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Jean became ill in 2017 and, having learned from her the value of strong nursing care, Dr. Dawe retired from his practice in order to care for her.

Dr. Dawe wanted to recognize his wife for her lifetime commitment to nursing while also providing income over his retirement years. A charitable gift annuity benefitting the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies offered a perfect opportunity to do both, and paved the way for Dr. Dawe to become a member of the Bellarmine Society for donors who make planned gifts to the University.

Having just passed the milestone of his 50th Reunion, a lot has changed since Dr. Dawe graduated; the Egan School has risen to the top ranks, and Dr. Dawe is impressed by how the school combines cutting edge clinical teaching with a full vision of the “human side” of healthcare that exemplified Jean’s vision of nursing.

After consulting family members and friends, including Special Assistant to the President George Diffley — who once taught Jean theology at the College of New Rochelle — Dr. Dawe decided to dedicate a large classroom to Jean. Foreseeing more changes in healthcare in the next 25 years, Dr. Dawe sees supporting student education at the Egan School as a way to strengthen the foundation of the nursing profession for future generations and to honor his wife’s memory.

Jean passed away on December 14, 2022. Her memory will live on through her family, friends, and patients, and through the future generations of nursing students who will be greeted and inspired as they enter Jean’s classroom for decades to come.

Other Articles in the Spring 2023 Issue

Letter from the President

Read the Article

Online Learning, Fairfield Style

Read the Article

Grand Design

Read the Article

@fairfieldu

Read the Article

Play Ball

Read the Article

In Deep Waters

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Colleen (O’Donnell) Thorburn ’97

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Meaghan Mooney '05New Article

Read the Article

Search Results