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CHAMPAIGN — On Wednesday (March 31, 2021), Griffith (Griff) Pryce Dawson of Urbana passed away at the age of 30.

Griff is survived by his mother, Norine Dawson of Ames, Iowa; father, Jeffrey Dawson of Los Angeles; three siblings, Evan Dawson of Champaign (Richelle Hildebrand), David Dawson of Los Angeles and Lauren Dawson of San Diego; and nephew, Owen Dawson of Champaign.

Griffith attended Leal Elementary School, Urbana Middle School and was home-schooled for high school. Griff was a member of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church and Parish. He was also a member of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Urbana and won a Medal of Merit for lifesaving from the Boy Scouts of America. Griff played for the Champaign Chiefs Youth Hockey Club. He was a talented percussionist and pianist and was a member of the Urbana Middle School band. He also enjoyed camping, fishing, canoeing and swimming.

Griff suffered from mental illness and addiction but rewarded those who accepted him with love and loyalty. Griff was imaginative and perceptive, possessing keen insight into the human condition.

Griff had a love for animals, but especially his constant companion, Shyann, a golden retriever who accompanied him on numerous walks. He also had a special spot in his heart for his cat, Kiki, who often curled up and slept next to him.

Griffith had a one-of-a-kind personality. At his best, Griff had a whimsical sense of humor, a contagious chuckle, and loved being around other people. His uniqueness would make everyone around him laugh, smile or sometimes scratch their head in amazement.

In addition to his selflessness in entering icy water to rescue someone who had fallen through the ice, his legacy includes teaching other people to better accept one another despite imperfections.

A private family celebration of life will be held in Ames, Iowa, on April 11, 2021, and another this summer in Urbana for family and friends at a date and place to be announced.

Contributions on Griff’s behalf can be made to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 4301 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203, or the Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 E. Main St., Urbana, IL 61802. Condolences may be offered at

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