Hundreds of local residents are mourning George W. Verity, a Baldwin native and owner of the popular Dawson Taxi company, who died suddenly Dec. 2 after many years of illness. He was 70.
“George had just gotten out of the hospital [after] maybe a week,” recovering from a blood infection, when he died suddenly in his car on the way to a barbershop, said Elaine Verity, George’s wife.
“He got in the car, shut the door, and just went and dropped dead,” Elaine said.
“That’s how fast it happened.”
While his death came as a shock, Elaine said, George had had medical troubles for more than two decades “It could have been a multitude of things,” she said. “George was so sick for the past 20 to 25 years, with heart trouble, diabetes. He even fought through sepsis a couple of times.
“He went through many years of all kinds of physical illnesses, and he kept pulling through, but this time was too much I guess,” she continued. “I think his body was just tired.”
Verity was known as a Baldwin boy, born and raised. He grew up on Jefferson Street, and his wife described him as “Baldwin all the way.”
“He never left, until he met me and moved to Freeport, but he still hung out in Baldwin,” Elaine said. “That was a joke between us. He’d go, ‘You can stay here if you want, I don’t care, but I’m going across the street, back to Baldwin.’”
Anyone who uses Baldwin’s Long Island Rail Road station regularly has seen Dawson’s yellow taxicabs (and sometimes the pink ones, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October). Founded in 1924, Dawson Taxi Service is among the oldest taxi companies on Long Island. The business was owned and operated by the Dawson family until 1974, when it was sold to the Verity family.
“[George], my father and my aunt have been partners since 1974 when they bought Dawson Taxi,” said Jason Verity, George’s nephew and the taxi company’s operations manager.
“George and my father drove for the original George Dawson,” owner of Dawson Taxi, Jason said. “George [Dawson], who was an elderly gentleman at that time, decided he didn’t want to continue with the business, but he didn’t want to retire and leave, so he sold [the taxi fleet], which at the time was about five cars.”
Now boasting a fleet of about 25 cars, Dawson Taxi Service continues to serve the Baldwin community, as it has for the past 93 years later.
“He really was Mr. Baldwin,” Jason said. “Everything he did was associated with how to better the town. I mean, we’re the lowest-priced cab company just for the fact that he kind of insisted on us never raising our prices, or keeping them as low as they can be, because he didn’t want to hurt any of the local commuters in the Baldwin area.”
“He knew everyone in the town pretty much,” Jason said. “He never found someone he didn’t like.”
When Verity wasn’t working, he was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, and in his earlier days, he liked to race cars at the Freeport Speedway, which was built in 1930 and closed in the 1980s.
Verity is survived by his wife; his children, Allen, Steven, George and Paul; his grandchildren, Steven, Chelsea, Matthew, Paul, Tiffany, Melisa and Michael; a great-grandchild, Kylie; and his siblings, Elwood and Annabelle.