Cover photo for Dawson James McAllister's Obituary
Dawson James McAllister Profile Photo
1946 Dawson James 2020

Dawson James McAllister

November 14, 1946 — December 17, 2020

View Funeral Webcast Dawson McAllister, 74, a hero for Christ, went to be with his Savior unexpectedly as a result of heart complications at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on Thursday, December 17, 2020. Born November 14, 1946 in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, he was the son of the late Margaret Ruth McAllister and the late Eugene B. McAllister, D.D. More than 50 years ago, God called Dawson as a spokesman to, and for, America’s teenagers. His career began as a youth pastor at Reseda Baptist Church in California. Fresh out of Seminary, he created and hosted a 13-week TV Show, syndicating it by loading videotapes into his VW bug and meeting with TV station managers across the Southwestern United States, persuading them to air it for free late at night. Next, he pioneered the Dawson McAllister Student Conferences for church youth groups, a model that over 20 years grew to arena-sized events and resulted in more than a million students learning deep truths about the Kingdom of God and over 100,000 making decisions to follow Christ. In 1977, Dawson Married Ruth Hill Fulton from Columbia, daughter of Franklin and Ruth Fulton. After eight years of living in the Rocky Mountains at Bailey, Colorado, they moved to Columbia to be near family. Dawson’s favorite hobby both in Colorado and in Tennessee was horseback riding, and he had “broken” several wild horses adopted through the Bureau of Land Management. He made many dear friends through the years through horseback riding. In January 1991, Dawson grabbed hold of a new opportunity: To bring biblical advice and values to young people through Christian radio. Starting on five stations, his call-in talk show, Dawson McAllister Live! (DMLive), grew to 250 stations. In 1994 it was voted National Religious Broadcasters’ Talk Show of the Year. While the reach of radio was startling, more was needed to bring godly hope to young people and rescue them from their deep dilemmas. In late 1991, Dawson founded TheHopeLine — an off-air rescue line where more than 1.2 million one-on-one conversations have provided emotional and spiritual triage for 13- to 29-year-olds who were struggling with everything from addiction to despair. TheHopeLine’s Coaches have also handled more than 30,000 suicide interventions. In 2005, God led DMA to pioneer once again by creating a version of Dawson McAllister Live! for secular radio. It was broadcast on Top 40 stations nationwide for more than 12 years, delivering “clear thinking and right values” to hundreds of thousands each week. His final and perhaps most lasting pioneering work was to oversee the digital transformation of his ministry in 2018. With as a foundation, Dawson created podcasts, blogs, a live weekly prayer show on Facebook and much more. His foresight assures that his passion for reaching teens and young adults with God’s transforming love will continue unabated. Dawson has written 18 books designed specifically to reach teenagers. He did his undergraduate work at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, his graduate studies at Talbot Seminary in LaMirada, California and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Biola University in Lamirada, California. Dawson and Ruth Hill McAllister have been members of First Baptist Church of Columbia for 35 years. In the late 1980’s they led the youth group there which had to move their meetings to the Columbia skating rink to have enough space. Dawson led youth groups or taught Sunday School over the years in every church he attended. He was also on the board of Zion Christian Academy for a few years. He was a great student of the Bible. He kept hundreds and hundreds of 3x5 cards in small leather pouches with verses he had copied on the front and back of each card. He would pull them out and go over the verses, frequently memorizing and reviewing them. Dawson gave his Lord Jesus Christ the credit and honor for all that he accomplished. And it was clear to all who knew him that he was filled with deep gratitude for his family, wife Ruth Hill, sons Fulton and Gene, and granddaughter Addison. He would tell you they encouraged and inspired him, and taught him much about love, sacrifice and perseverance. Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Ruth Hill Fulton McAllister of Columbia; sons, Fulton McAllister of Columbia; Gene McAllister of Nashville; granddaughter, Addison McAllister of Columbia; and sisters, Dianne McAllister of Nampa, Montana, Ann (Steve) Miller of Cummings, Georgia; sister-in-law, Dixie Fulton (George) Williamson of Nashville; nephews, Chris (Amy) Miller of Dothan, Alabama; Matt (Becky) Miller of Cummings, Georgia; niece, Emily Williamson of Nashville; and seven great nieces and nephews. Private family services will be held at Zion Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements and condolences may be extended online at Active pallbearers will be Gene McAllister, Steve Miller, George Williamson, Tim Altman, Jody Shaw, Randy Harness, Graham Bland, and Stan Breeden. The family would like to express their deep appreciation for the love and support from countless staff members past and present of Dawson McAllister Association and the Hope Line, as well as countless volunteers who over the years gave their time to reach out to young people to aid in Dawson’s ministry. To God be the glory. Many thanks also to the medical staff of Maury Regional Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Gibran Naddy, Dr. Joel Phares, Dr. Kita Williams, Dr. Tarik Absi, Dr. Joseph Salloum, Dr. Tim Gordon, and many others.


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