Dave was, quite simply, the finest teacher I ever knew, and a dear friend.
The first time I heard him speak — in a writing workshop in my very first program at Evergreen — I remember Dave promising us that he would teach us how to research, and how to write, but, more importantly, how to think. A promise kept, at least for me, and with generous helpings of humor, wisdom and kindness thrown in, more or less for free.
I’ve reached an age where reports of friends and relatives passing are no longer so rare, and each one is like a powerful hand reaching out and pulling me back into the past. Few have pulled as hard as the news of Dave’s death. I’ve done much and traveled far these past three decades, but my years at Evergreen were, in many ways, the most intense of my life — for both good and bad. Dave was a big part of the good, and a sympathetic friend through the bad.
To be sure, the memories are a little jumbled after 30 years, but they can still make me smile. Mostly I remember sitting in Dave’s office, or across a table down at Buzz’s Tavern, and listening to his stories — of Oklahoma and Georgia and Australia, of characters he had known; the characters he had been.
I have no faith in an after life. Reason tells me not to, and it seems like asking too much of the universe anyway — as if this life were not a sufficiently precious gift. But if I’m wrong, if something DOES come next, I can only hope that Dave has taken his rightful place among the eagles, in his own Tailfeather Chronicles.