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Karl "Soup" Dawson

March 21st, 1947 - June 6th, 2024

Karl “Soup” Dawson, passed away June 6 at his home in Chico at the age of 77. He was believed to be the longest surviving heart transplant patient “with his tan,” as he would say, an inspiring individual of grit and humor — living, not just surviving — for 33 years and 58 days. 

 

Born in Keokuk, Iowa, Karl grew up on his beloved grandparents’ farm, surrounded by strong, hardworking aunts and uncles who understood Mom Laura May loved Karl unconditionally, an amazing foundation for a generous, honorable,and independent soul who lived life as an original. He ran track briefly in college before volunteering to join the Air Force; he continued running for joy all over the world until his phenomenal medical team at Stanford said his joints couldn’t take it due to his huge mound of immunosuppressive meds. An unusual patriot granted a Top Secret SCI clearance, Karl/Soup made a career of the military, received his unique nickname from fellow GIs, and remained proud of his service in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and West Germany.

 

He met the love of his life, Debra Barger, in 1979, and though it took her awhile to view him the same way, they shared a bond not many understood as they built a life together even when they lived on different continents. After retiring from the Air Force, he was happy to follow her to Chico where he indulged his passion for collecting and sharing music, movies, and vintage soda bottles, along with daily neighborhood walks until cancer put a halt to his outings. After decades of poker playing, he was delighted to take up bridge just before the pandemic. 

 

Karl was predeceased by his parents and half-siblings. He is survived by his uncle Albert Dawson of Minnesota, wife Debra, and multiple loving and loved Barger family in-laws, including a nephew and niece for whom he reveled in being their one-and-only Uncle Soup. 

 

A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, August 17 from 10am to noon at the Chico Women’s Club. Please RSVP to [email protected]. Contributions to support the gift of life may be made in his name to Donate Life.

We Entrusted Karl Dawson's Care To

Brusie Funeral Home

Brusie Funeral Home

At Brusie Funeral Home, we treat every family with dignity and respect, recognizing the profound impact of compassionate, professional care when grieving the loss of a loved one. Recently renovated, our funeral home is designed to provide a serene chapel, picturesque outdoor venues, and private gathering spaces, fostering a tranquil atmosphere for commemorating life. With a dedicated reception room, we ensure your family and friends find comfort during challenging times. Our Spanish-speaking staff offers personalized support for clear communication and understanding.

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Tributes

Share a favorite memory, send condolences, and honor Karl’s life with a heartfelt message.

Ricky Armstrong

Soup always treated me like family even though technically we weren't related. I was always "home boy". He was one of the most decent human beings I have ever crossed paths with. Kind, generous and a permanent smile on his face. The world is a lesser place without him.

Published June 28th, 2024
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Lori Fuentes

Sometimes we are fortunate in life to cross paths with someone who teaches you, entertains you, makes you rethink your stance on a multitude of subjects and ultimately helps you become a better person, makes you laugh, and leaves you knowing they care about you. Karl and Debra have been on my path WITH me for years and I will forever be grateful for both of them. Karl will always be in my heart...he received a new heart but in turn gave his heart to everyone he met. A pure example of a caring and open human. Something for us all to aspire to. Sending you a virtual hug Debra. Love you both. ❤️

Published June 23rd, 2024
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Glenda Estes

Soup was one of a kind … passionate about things he loved/ enjoyed. My thoughts are with Debra … and the rest of the Barger family. Love, Glenda Estes

Published June 23rd, 2024
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Tim McAnulty

I didn’t know Karl very long, but I knew he is one cool dude. Always bringing his great attitude to everything. He will be missed.

Published June 24th, 2024
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Andy Holcombe

Crossing Karl’s path was always fortuitous and joyous. Much appreciation for Karl, and the brief moments of kidding and caring with him. Condolences to Debra and family.

Published June 23rd, 2024
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Elliot Maldonado

Karl “Soup” Dawson, passed away June 6 at his home in Chico at the age of 77. He was believed to be the longest surviving heart transplant patient “with his tan,” as he would say, an inspiring individual of grit and humor — living, not just surviving — for 33 years and 58 days. Born in Keokuk, Iowa, Karl grew up on his beloved grandparents’ farm, surrounded by strong, hardworking aunts and uncles who understood Mom Laura May loved Karl unconditionally, an amazing foundation for a generous, honorable,and independent soul who lived life as an original. He ran track briefly in college before volunteering to join the Air Force; he continued running for joy all over the world until his phenomenal medical team at Stanford said his joints couldn’t take it due to his huge mound of immunosuppressive meds. An unusual patriot granted a Top Secret SCI clearance, Karl/Soup made a career of the military, received his unique nickname from fellow GIs, and remained proud of his service in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and West Germany. He met the love of his life, Debra Barger, in 1979, and though it took her awhile to view him the same way, they shared a bond not many understood as they built a life together even when they lived on different continents. After retiring from the Air Force, he was happy to follow her to Chico where he indulged his passion for collecting and sharing music, movies, and vintage soda bottles, along with daily neighborhood walks until cancer put a halt to his outings. After decades of poker playing, he was delighted to take up bridge just before the pandemic. Karl was predeceased by his parents and half-siblings. He is survived by his uncle Albert Dawson of Minnesota, wife Debra, and multiple loving and loved Barger family in-laws, including a nephew and niece for whom he reveled in being their one-and-only Uncle Soup. A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, August 17 from 10am to noon at the Chico Women’s Club. Please RSVP to [email protected]. Contributions to support the gift of life may be made in his name to Donate Life.

Published June 21st, 2024
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