Donald Chambers Dodds Jr., the eldest son of Donald C. Dodds Sr. and Julia Harris Dodds, was a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and esteemed community member. Dodds attended Uni High and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. After college and time in the Army, he returned to Champaign to pursue farming, only to find that he was “the worst farmer in the history of farming.” He began a travel sports company in 1959 called Doddson Travel (which would later become Dodds Athletic Tours), and he also formed an alumni sports travel program, the first of its kind. Their first trip was to the 1963 Rose Bowl, and Dodds Athletic Tours attained national preeminence in the industry.
His ventures were not limited to sports, however. Dodds and his brother Newt developed the Interstate Research Park in northwest Champaign, the first in Champaign County. He was an avid supporter of Parkland College, served on its board from 1968 to 1983, and served as a founding board member and president of the Parkland Foundation Board. He received an honorary degree in 2003, and the Dodds Athletic Center was dedicated in his name in 2011.
Dodds supported many other causes through time and funds, including the Champaign Public Library as a founding member on its Foundation Board. He also served on the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Marquee Council and provided financial support to the Krannert Art Museum as well as the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Scholarship Fund for over 50 years. Since 1969, he and his company, Dodds Athletic Tours, have sponsored Kiwanis Little League baseball.
Donald Dodds and his then-wife Alice were named Philanthropists of the Year. In 2006, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce named them Champaign County’s Most Valuable Citizens. He passed away peacefully at his home on March 29, 2018, and is survived by his brother Newt, his three daughters as well as their families and children.