The Maine native was known for his dedication to the working class & ability to connect with people.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is sad to report that former field coordinator Dan Lawson has passed away after a courageous fight with cancer.
Lawson worked for decades at the Verso Paper mill in Bucksport, Maine before coming to AAM in 2010 to advocate for working class jobs. He stayed until 2012, when he left to work as a staff representative for the United Steelworkers.
"Dan Lawson was a beloved member of the AAM family," said Scott Paul, AAM's president. "His kindness, authenticity, and commitment to working people will be missed. My heart aches for his wife, Pat, and for his entire family."
While Lawson worked on several projects and initiatives during his time with AAM, his fight for his fellow paper workers related to a major 2010 trade case stands out. Lawson traveled to small paper towns around the country, gathering letters of support for the case from union members and community leaders.
Fellow AAM field coordinator Meghan Hasse joined Lawson for much of that journey, including traveling to southern paper mill towns like Eufaula, Ala., Demopolis, Ala., and Canton, N.C., where the duo interviewed workers and community members using flip video camcorders.
"Dan made this task so easy, as he was just so down to earth and easy going," Hasse said. "He always knew the right thing to say and could connect with everyone. He truly had a passion for the work he did — he was never going to stop fighting for what he believed in — and that was the working class. He had an energy — a drive for community that was unlike many others."
Hasse described Lawson as a mentor, noting that the pair connected because of their experience in the paper industry (Hasse worked at Georgia-Pacific in Wisconsin during her summer breaks from college) and their "love for a cold wheat beer." The two also brought unique accents to their southern road trip — a Mainer and a Wisconsinite "that threw everyone off."
"The best quality I knew in Dan was his unconditional love for his family. He always had a smile on his face when he talked about them," Hasse said. "Between meeting the fire chief in a small Alabama town and stopping to check out the good work at the local food pantry in North Carolina, there was always a break for a story to be told and it was always about his family."
Indeed, Lawson often brought along his wife, Patricia, on many of his work trips. "He loved his family and his work so much that often the two were combined," Hasse said.
Dozens of people also remembered Lawson on his Facebook page, with many noting his love of family and his dedication to factory workers. Heather Quinn Claver recalled seeing Lawson speak at a conference on behalf of AAM several years ago: "I remember thinking at the time – this guy is not fooling around, he is walking the talk!! What an amazing fighter for the working people! He has left an indelible mark on the world!"
Kim Thompson Glas, a one-time staffer for former Maine Rep. Mike Michaud, posted that she meet Lawson during one of her first meetings on behalf of the congressman.
"It was really hard not to love Dan from the moment you met him," she recalled. "There is no way not to love this man! It's completely impossible."