John Dawkins is a familiar face in Boone. Known for his culinary skills, he cooks for the Boone Area Humane Society, at the Salvation Army’s board meetings, at auctions and dinner theaters, and is a fill-in cook at Sacred Heart School. In four years, he and his wife made 97 gallons of soup for the BAHS. In short, Dawkins loves to cook.
Retired from the railroad for the past six years, he volunteers at the Boone Salvation Army’s food pantry, is “Mister Conductor” at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, plus serves as crossing guard at Sacred Heart School.
While he was born in Arizona, he has lived in Boone or Ogden most of his life.
“My dad was born in Boone, then he got out of the service and lived in Arizona where I was born, then moved back to be closer to his parents in Boone,” Dawkins noted. “And I traveled for the railroad for my job.”
His latest cookbook “The Cooking Conductor” was assembled with the goal of offering people easy, nutritious recipes. Some he’s come up with on his own, while others were modified to his tastes. Conductor chili is one of his signature dishes.
Dawkins began cooking for his family at age 7.
“I asked my brother about it. He said I was the only one in the family that liked to cook,” Dawkins said.
Being a single parent for 12 years also motivated him to hone his cooking skills.
His previous work “The Food Pantry Cookbook” came about while volunteering at the Salvation Army’s food pantry. Sometimes, he’d encounter folks turning down food, such as deer meat and rotisserie chicken, because they didn’t know how to cook it.
“I gave clients free cookbooks,” he said.
Proceeds from the sale of that cookbook went toward his regular monthly donations to the Salvation Army. He plans to give funds from his latest cookbook to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.
Dawkins is heavily involved in the community. In 2017, he received an award from the city of Boone for community service. He enjoys it when school groups take train tours he is working on, plus interacting with youth during crossing guard duties.
“John Dawkins is an extraordinary fella. He always has a smile on his face. True to his chivalrous nature, if he’s near a door he’s sure to open it for you. He takes good care of the Sacred Heart staff,” music teacher Shauna Pickering said. “He can often be found handing out treats or leaving goodies in the staff lounge. He has many neat stories to share. He lives and loves well, and you always feel a little more upbeat after visiting with John.”
His cookbooks cost $5 each and are available exclusively through him. He may be reached at 515-298-3805.