Porter W. Dawley, Jr. ’58

Porter W. Dawley, Jr. ’58 died on November 23, 2022, in Gardner, Massachusetts.

(The following was provided by the Sentinel & Enterprise on November 30, 2022)

Porter (Peter) Woodbury Dawley, Jr., passed away peacefully Wednesday, November 23rd at the Gardner Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Gardner, MA, at the age of 84.

Peter was born on October 27th, 1938, in Gardner, Massachusetts to the late Porter W. Dawley, Sr., and Dolly (Ferguson) Dawley of Westminster.

Subsequent to his graduation from Gardner High School in 1956, Peter became a pre-med major at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Following his post-secondary education, Peter shifted his attention to the family business, beginning a long career with Dawley and Shepard and the Westminster Cracker Company; a company started by his great-great grandfather in 1891. Peter knew all of the jobs in the bakery and was an officer of the corporation. Westminster Crackers became famous for their production of the common cracker, thin and thick saltines and the ever-popular oyster cracker. The Westminster Crackers breading factory was sold to Pillsbury in 1982. However, Peter retained the rights to make crackers.

In 1988, The Westminster Cracker Company was re-incorporated in Rutland, Vermont. As president of the company, Peter resurrected Westminster Crackers, enhancing distribution up and down the east coast and across the country. Peter was a brilliant and shrewd businessman, a true entrepreneurial success. Ordering a bowl of soup anywhere in the U.S. is likely to be served with a small package of Westminster’s famous oyster crackers. Peter enjoyed the satisfaction of having rebuilt the business from the ground up. He retired from Westminster Crackers in 2002.

Peter was an Eagle Scout. He was an avid skier. He quite enjoyed any and all thriller novels written by Robert Ludlum. However, most notably, Peter was a talented drummer. He had a great affection for some of the most talented drummers in the world including Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, and, most recently, Frank Bellucci. He always traveled with a pair of drumsticks and practiced any time that he could. Peter’s quick wit and humor will be greatly missed.

Peter leaves behind two sons, Porter W. Dawley III of Longview, WA. Eric G. Dawley and his wife, MaryBeth, of Westminster, MA. His grandchildren, JuliAnna S. Dawley and Jack W. Dawley of Westminster. He also leaves a brother, David Dawley of Hanover, NH, along with nieces, nephews and cousins.

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