I was so glad to see again the segment on Woody Davis of Oregon on
CBS Sunday Morning. Clearly, he was one of a kind, though I believe-
as remarkable as his lifestory - there are probably more rare individuals
like himself, thank God, because we certainly need them to never
completely lose faith in mankind. Just thinking of so many of our
self-serving legislators and politicians makes me cringe. We need
people like Woody Davis making laws for us in Congress, though his
expertise was not in this field at all.
You may have seen the same Steve Hartmann video as I- either on the
CBS evening news some weeks ago, or today on CBS Sunday Morning.
But for those who may have missed both showings, I hope you will
look him up on the internet after I mention here the salient points
of this man's remarkable life.
What made him so remarkable? Did he donate millions to good causes
in Corbett, Oregon where he lived? No. Did he invent something
invaluable in the field of medicine which led to needed cures of
disease? No. Did he set himself apart by exhibiting acting or
sporting talents? No, none of these attributes which so many of
us consider so important and worthy of note, did he possess.
I think if I were to characterize him simply - he was just an
ordinary man who lived an extroarding life of service to his
community. The internet caption under the picture of this grey-
bearded elderly man with a gentle smile describes him well: "Folks
in Corbett, Oregon are thankful to Woody Davis for the good deeds
he's done for over the last 50 years."
Fifty years of service to one's community - what a wonderful
epitaph for anyone's "dash" on a tombstone. For those who have never
heard the meaning of the "dash" between our date of birth and date
of death -it simply refers to the years of life we spent while alive.
The originator of this "dash" concept wisely wrote that neither dates
on our tombstone are as important as the "dash" which represents how
we lived our life on earth. I loved this wise reflection when I first
heard it in a priest's eulogy - though he was not the originator of it.
Woody Davis' "dash" is impressive and special. With his beat-up truck
loaded with tools, he came to the aid of the residents of Corbett-
often not requiring or accepting payment for his work. How unusual
Well, I haven't met a handyman like that in my home during my 40-year
ownership. In fact, I like to share one sad account re my general
disillusionment with handymen, though yes, there were some good ones.
My porch trellis had become disengaged from it. I paid one "handyman"
to fix it. He assured me that after hammering a few nails, it was now
solidly anchored. Cost -$20 for some nails and 5-10 minutes of "work."
It soon was "drooping" again.
The next handyman said that screws would do the job. $30 paid and a
couple of weeks later, my trellis was separated again. The third
handyman earned whatever I paid him which I don't recall. He nailed
a piece of wood the length of the trellis to the top of the porch
railing and then anchored the trellis to it. A wonderful job and a
man worthy of the title "handyman."
What did the people of Corbett, Oregon think of their handyman? One
of the residents called him "the epitome of something dear." Another
one noted that sometimes you had to force him to accept payment for
a job- noting that he had to stick a check in his pocket because you
just couldn't hand it to him.
Last year the people of the town began to return some of his good will.
They cut and stacked his firewood for winter. Some men fixed up his
old pickup. Some one even made a beautiful pine box for him and many
people signed it. And the pine box was providential for by now, Woody
had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerois (ALS)- Lou Gehrig's
While being interviewd by CBS in January, he was already struggling
to lift and talk. but he had mentioned that he felt blessed that he
was dying slowly because he was grateful to learn and accept the
gratitude of the local people for his years of service to them.
I loved the writer's thoughts on Woody's slow dying; "Too often in
situations like this, death is whispered and praise is saved for the
eulogy. But, thanks to the people of Corbett, Woody got to see what
he meant to them before he died."
Woody died in January 2012 and about 700 people showed up to pay
their repects. His wooden coffin was carried by horse and wagon and
the people lined the streets and waved.
Again the writer captures the moment perfectly saying that the people
gave Woody the same big-open-handed, wide open-hearted wave he gave
them every day of his adult life.
And what a "dash" on Woody's tombstone, but sadly one which only can
be truly appreciated by the people of Corbett, Oregon where he served
so well for 50 years. But now also whoever reads this or watched either
of the two CBS segments can also appreciate his dash.
I don't know how many of us can ever equal his "dash," but I hope we are
all trying to do the best we can to "polish" our own. Rest in peace,
Woody. You certainly deserve it.