Good morning everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m David’s cousin John. I’d like to welcome you and thank you for joining us today as we pay tribute to David in a celebration of his life! Dave was an incredible man who lived an extraordinary life. He touched our lives in so many ways and will live on forever in our hearts and memories.
Like many of you, I’ve known Dave a long time. Being first cousins we spent much of our childhood together. But ours was more than a blood bond. Dave and I were tight and we always felt connected somehow. We shared many of the same interests, had similar hopes and dreams and our temperaments were well matched so we got along well. (most of the time anyway) More importantly we trusted each other and knew we could rely on one another, so that by the time we were mid teens we were more like brothers than cousins. I didn’t realize it then but in Dave I had found a life long companion and soulmate.
Dave was a real character. he was larger than life, loud rambuctious, a joker and honest to a fault, sometimes brutally. You never had to wonder how Dave felt about someone or something, you always knew because he’d tell you so, he never held back, I don’t think holding back was an option. We can probably all remember times when he came across as crass or insensitive, but that wasn’t true, Dave was a truly caring soul with a heart of gold. He never set out to deliberately hurt anyone, he simply felt compelled to share his point of view even when he knew he probably shouldn’t. I think he may have suffered from obsessive- compulsive honesty disorder. just saying.
He once told me that he and Reggie Jackson were a lot alike. When I asked him how he said that like Reggie, he too was “the straw that stirred the drink,” Yeah, that was Dave, He definitely knew how to stir things up and he enjoyed doing it. I guess you could say that Dave marched to the beat of a different drummer. probably Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, John Bonham and Ansley Dunbar!
Dave lived life large. He squeezed every last drop outta life and he did it his way. Frank Sinatra would have been proud. Growing up my dad taught me that there were three ways to get something done, the right way which of course was usually boring, the wrong way which was a waste of time and resulted in having to do things all over again and lastly, doing it half assed which was just sorta putting a band aid on it til later.
But with Dave there was a 4th option. You probably guessed it, Dave’s way. Dave’s way was always a much more daring and exiting approach. Dave’s way gave you the opportunity to bend the rules and color outside the lines if you wanted, which made it much more fun. Besides when you did it Dave’s way you didn’t wait for the job to be finished before having a beer, you started with a beer! You know how much Dave loved his beer. Hand Dave a Bud, Modelo or a fine craft beer and he was happy man.
I will forever cherish the many memories I have of growing up with Dave. We were so naive. I was a year older than Dave and every now and then he’d acknowledged that his older cousin might actually know a little more than him on some subjects.
I remember one afternoon when Dave was a 7th grader the two of us were walking home from school when out of the blue he asked me what I knew about babies. I thought he was joking until I looked over at him and could see how serious he was. I remember telling him to ask his parents about it but he definitely didn’t want to do that, so I figured what the hell and told him. We stopped right there in the Safeway parking lot where I shared all the 8th grade knowledge I possessed on baby making.
By the time I finished Dave was in a state of shock. He just stood there giving me the evil eye, and actually looked like he was about to cry. Suddenly he accused me of making it all up and screamed at me “There’s no way my mom and dad ever did that” “they don’t do that! No way! You’re a liar!” and with that said he stormed away.
The next morning I went by his house in the off chance that he’d cooled off and sure enough as I approached he met me on the sidewalk. Soon he was excitedly telling me how he’d gone home and looked everything up in the Encyclopedia and how they had pictures and everything. He kept telling me that I’d been right, and even apologized for not believing me and calling me a liar. That was Dave.
I’m not sure if you remember but Dave went through a Jerry Lewis phase. He was always a big Jerry Lewis fan. No one ever expected him to become a Lewis look alike but that’s just what he did! He got a Jerry Lewis haircut, dressed like him copied his mannerisms, and even did pratfalls. It was a bit annoying after awhile and sometimes embarrassing, but it was so Dave. He really got into it and enjoyed the attention. Truth be told he actually did a pretty good Lewis imitation. Thank God he eventually outgrew the whole Jerry Lewis thing. It took a lot longer than we’d hoped but in time Dave was back to normal whatever that was.
And we can’t forget Dave’s 16th birthday party. One of the first truly great teen parties of the era! It had all the right ingredients, girls, food, loud music, girls and a stash of hidden beer! Yeah there’s nothing like a garage full of drunken teens to liven up a party. The highlight of the night came near the end of the party when the Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ was played. In a matter of moments everyone was singing along, then someone went over and put an arm around Dave’s waist and began to sway with the music soon everyone was arm in arm, swaying and singing. By the time the song ended tears were flowing, groups of people were still hugging, it was a beautiful moment.
Nearly 25 years later we had the opportunity to relive that Hey Jude moment at Dave’s 40th birthday bash. Believe me it was just as touching as the first time around.
The last time Dave experienced the Hey Jude moment was on the day before he passed away. We were gathered around Dave playing an assortment of Dave’s favorite songs, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Neil Young, Dylan and more. When I suddenly flashed on Hey Jude. I knew he’d want to hear it so I put it on next. I gotta tell you, there’s magic in that tune, almost instantly everyone in the room began singing, crying and swaying in a Hey Jude tribute to Dave. It was yet another beautiful and moving Hey Jude moment. Dave’s last. I could only pray that Dave could hear us and was reliving the same precious memories that we were. I sincerely hope so.
As the years passed and we grew into adulthood our bond remained strong. When Raylene and I got married in 73 I asked Dave to be my best man. Years later when he and Wallie married he asked me to be his best man. We remained close throughout our 20’s but saw each other less as we were both busy working and taking on our new found adult responsibilities.
Dave was also very busy having the time of his life! I call that period the party years. We all know that Dave liked to party like there was no tomorrow. He was a party animal long before the term came into existence in the early 80’s. Yeah, the original party animal. Dave was also a pretty “wild and crazy guy” long before Steve Martin and Dan Aykroid made them popular on Saturday Night Live. He was a wild man with a million dollar smile and a heart to match.
In time Dave began to settle down. Meeting up with Wallie again and marrying her helped, but then she liked to party too! For Dave it was a match made in heaven. He loved his Wallie and told me so often, he also loved his instant family, Jennifer and JJ. There was never any doubt that Dave was a very happy camper.
When the company Dave worked for relocated to Temecula Dave relocated with them, eventually buying a home in Wildomar. Responsibilities and distance caused us to see less of one another but still our bond remained. We got together whenever we could and like the true friends we were, we picked right up where we’d left off the last time we’d been together as if no time had passed at all, even though sometimes it had been weeks or months between visits. For friends it just didn’t matter.
In time we learned of Dave’s first bout with cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good, but Dave was strong and went on to win that battle. I remember Dave and Wallie stopped by the house one weekend while Dave was receiving chemo treatments. I believe he’d completed three rounds of chemo. The two of us were out back drinking a beer when he told me he didn’t believe the chemo was working. He wasn’t reacting like most patients do, no nausea, weakness or vomiting. He always felt fine after his chemo sessions and was able to eat right away, sometimes he even went back to work. Yeah he was pretty well convinced that it wasn’t going to work. I tried to reassure him but privately I was worried.
Dave has never been an overtly religious man, but he told me that he’d been praying to God to let him live. He wanted to live so that he could watch his son Jacob grow up and be a part of his life. He told me it was his fondest wish.
A few weeks later I received a phone call from Dave. He had just gotten the results of his most recent CT Scan. I braced myself for the worst but suddenly he excitedly told me that the chemo was working and all his tumors were shrinking! He was so incredibly happy! His prayers had been answered and his fondest wish had come true. He did indeed beat the cancer and got to be a part of Jacobs’s life, he got to watch his son become a man. Thank You Jesus.
Dave’s second bout with cancer occurred about eight years ago. Although Dave again managed to beat the cancer a second time, his life and the life of his family were changed forever. After the cancer treatments were complete Dave began to develop symptoms similar to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease which began to take its toll. Although none of his doctors ever said definitively that he had Parkinson’s that is what he was treated for.
Since retiring two years ago I’ve had the honor of being Dave’s designated, neurology appointment driver. I’ve enjoyed every minute.It felt good to be able to help out. The last appointment I drove him too was in May he was weak but in good spirit. After the appointment he came and stayed with us for a few days. In just 5 weeks since his previous appointment He had really taken a turn for the worse. He couldn’t do half of what he’d been able to do just a month before. But he was still trying.
In one of our last good conversations probably around February or early March we got to talking about the life journey, not particularly his, but life in general, the highs, the lows and of the many unknowns. He jokingly came to the conclusion that sometimes God is a lot like Reggie Jackson too.He likes to stir things up a bit every so often to see how we handle things and learn what we’re made of.
He also told me how tired he was of being trapped in his body. All he really wanted was to be Dave again, the old Dave. He wanted to be able to do all the things he did before, and he wanted to travel and do things with Wallie, he wished that they could grow old together. The one thing he never wanted was to become a burden on anyone. He was adamant about that.
The last time I saw Dave was on the afternoon of his death. He looked so peaceful lying there, as if he were only sleeping. I gave him a hug, kissed his cheek and whispered to him “Rest easy bro, it’s okay, you can let go. Love you man.” He passed away an hour and a half later his family at his side. It was almost as though he had been waiting til it was only them in the room
Yes ladies and gents This is my cousin Dave, the man I referred to as a modern day Job for like Job he’s been beset by pain, illness and loss, tested time and again yet, even after all he’d been through he’s remained hopeful and awaited a miracle. He was no quitter. Just a few days before he died he was still asking about making another appointment with the neurologist at Loma Linda. Dave had a strong will to live. He refused to give up but he was so tired and his body just couldn’t go on any longer. He lived a good life. Now he dances with angels…
Farewell my friend…
See you on the other side….