Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 20, 2007
My friend - the whirlwind
It's hard for me to believe that my friend Dave is gone. I always described him as one of those people who created a "whirlwind" wherever he went. That's not meant in a bad way -- it's just that whenever he entered a room, you immediately knew it. There was no ignoring his contagious laugh, his hilarious sense of humor and his need to be on the move all the time.
Dave hired me in 1983. He was the director of Student Publications Inc. at Kansas State University, and I was completing my graduate studies in business administration.
When I saw the classified ad he had put in the local paper, I thought it sounded like the perfect fit for me. It called for someone who could teach basic journalism classes and who could supervise the advertising staff of the Kansas State Collegian. I had completed my bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 1975, had experience as a reporter and managing editor, had sold ads and had spent time working on newspapers in Kansas and Latin America. I was learning more about marketing and other areas of business through my graduate studies.
I sent a letter and resume and it wasn't long before I got a call from Dave.
"Can you come in for an interview right now?" he asked.
I was a bit taken aback. "I'm in jeans and have crummy shoes on," I told him. Being on a grad student's budget had taken a toll on my wardrobe.
"That's OK," Dave insisted. "Come on over anyway."
So I did.
Dave asked a lot of questions, told me a lot about Student Pub and introduced me to the staff and students. He didn't seem to be the slightest put off by my less-than-professional attire. He offered me the job within a day or two and I accepted.
Although Dave left K-State for a similar position at Indiana University in 1989, we stayed in touch through the years. The college media community is not that large and so I frequently heard what he was up to or ran into him at conventions. Newspaper types naturally enjoy writing, so the Christmas letters we exchanged each year were newsy affairs.
Dave had great stories, like the one about a ski trip he took. He was having a great time on the slopes until he realized he didn't know how to stop. He came flying down the hill, yelling at people to get out of the way. He shot through the parking lot and plowed into a car. Somehow he escaped injury, and the whole situation reminded me of some Chevy Chase "vacation" movie.
Dave always seemed to be upbeat. About a year ago, I was in a restaurant in Iola after working on a journalism project in Humboldt. I was startled to see Dave there as well. Mine was a happy occasion, but it was a sad one for him - the funeral of his brother. Yet he was the same old Dave, laughing, hugging everyone, quickly relating all the recent events in his life.
I spoke to Dave this past May, shortly before my family and I left on vacation. I had heard he had been in the hospital and I was worried.
When he answered his cell phone, he told me he was out of the hospital and on his way to the airport to go home.
I told him to put down the phone and call me when he got to the airport. But I had to chuckle when I hung up. It was just like him to be doing several things at once.
A few minutes later, he called back and told me how much better he felt, how much he appreciated my call and how much he cherished our friendship. His tone was that of someone who had just had a brush with the realization that even whirlwinds are mortal.
Still, I was shocked when I learned of his passing shortly after that phone call. A month has gone by, and I don't think it has really struck me yet that I won't ever see Dave again. I will always appreciate the confidence he had in me. He often told people I was one of the best hires he ever made.
But I also appreciate just as much the way he could make me smile. In fact, I'm smiling now just thinking about my friend - the whirlwind.