I had a good friend and colleague that passed away sometime back. I wasn’t much older than his oldest children, so he often treated me and worried about me as if I was his son. As I considered Fathers’ Day this year, I thought about him. I thought I’d share some memories I had of him, along with some of his sayings and some things his family shared at his funeral.
Since David and I were both teachers, and I was new in the profession, he knew my pay wasn’t always sufficient. He often asked me if I was making ends meet. He would sometimes tell me where I could get good deals on things he knew I needed. He was a master at knowing about saving money. His sweet wife said that to David, money was not just something that was in limited supply; it was something that needed to be taken care of in hopes it would have children and proliferate.
David tried to save money any way he could. He found four old lawnmowers at the junkyard. His daughter Abby was responsible for team-mowing the lawn with her father each Saturday. By team-mowing, I’m not inferring they both mowed. By the time Abby stepped outside for her assignment, David would have one machine sputtering. Abby would mow with it until it died, and by then, David would have another one running in a half-firing state. They kept this up until the grass was all cut.
Abby said if they wanted something, her dad would provide work, but the work was hard, and the pay was terrible. That was motivation for her and her siblings to find employment elsewhere. When his children would come home from their first day at a new job, usually dirty and tired, David always had to take a picture. And to his children’s dismay, the photos were posted prominently in his office at work.
One fond memory I have of David was taking a minute from my hectic day now and then and plopping in a chair in his office to visit. His office was always neat as a pin. Every pen, pencil, and eraser were in precisely the right place. Occasionally, he would come to my office to visit. I ran all the internet systems at the university and had multiple big servers in my office. My desk was often strewn with notes and to-do lists. David would shake his head and say, “How do you ever get anything done in this office.”
We both laughed at that because I had about twice the workload of anyone else in the department with both teaching and managing the computers. I would always answer the same, “Well, you know what they say, David. A clean office is the sign of a sick mind. At least we both know my mind is healthy.” He always took it well, and we had a good laugh at that, too.
David’s children shared some fun things about his insistence on order. David was an old army man, and bedroom inspections were on Saturdays. No one could go anywhere with their friends until they passed the inspection. But Jennifer said she found a way to make it easy. Her room was in the basement near the root cellar. She would haul all the items messing up her room into the root cellar. Once her father had passed her on the inspection, she would retrieve them and put them back in her room.
Of all the sayings David used, there is one that sticks out to me. He liked efficient meetings and good use of time. When things seemed to be going in a wasteful, useless, or redundant direction, David would say something that was a cue to the department chairperson to shut down the meeting so we could get back to the tasks we needed to complete.
“When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done!”
Thanks for the memories, David.