There was one last post I wanted to include before 2009...
Dale Heckendorn, Director of the National Register program in Denver, died in October of this year. I worked in the same small office as Dale for my three years at the SHPO. His death came as a shock to me but probably not to him. Dale did what most in my family do...ignore family history and doctors and just hope to make it as long as you can.
After hearing about this I had discussions with friends/former co-workers. Which is better: to die unexpectedly and young but live your life to the fullest or to die old and spend a fair amount of time in hospitals, on pills, etc.
Dale chose the former and it was his decision to make, even though we wished for more time.
His funeral was packed. People sitting at the back, waiting to speak to the family, must have waited for 30 minutes to get through the line. You could tell that his family was surprised to see how many people were deeply saddened at Dale's passing. I wonder if Dale knew how many people respected and cared for him?
It makes me marvel at how private Dale was. It was like he was leading a double life. His home life which myself and other co-workers knew nothing about and his work life which his family seemed to know little about. I swear if I found out he was a secret agent it wouldn't have surprised me.
I thought at the time, did he have people to share with? To talk to about work and problems and questions and dreams? Certainly his wife, but what if he wanted to talk about his personal life? There were people at the SHPO who liked Dale alot and probably would have loved to be his friend and confidant. Somehow he feels like a lonely figure. I hope he wasn't lonely.
Dale was easily the smartest and funniest person I have ever worked with. Not to say my other co-workers weren't funny. They were...side splitting funny, but Dale just had a way about him that was so sharp and so clever.
I remember when I first started i was so intimidated by him. He was quiet, only spoke when he had something to say (unlike blabber mouth me) and when he did speak up it was always intelligent and often wickedly funny. He had the epitome of dry humor. I just knew that he thought i was annoying and childish and unfunny (often i was all three).
Once LLK and I were working up the nerve to ask Dale a question about a song that had been running through her head. Dale knew the answer to everything. Certainly he is the true Dr. Colorado (sorry Tom Noel, but you are no Mr. Heckendorn)...but beyond Colorado history, the guy knew everything. LLK and i walked up to his cube-she sang him the tune-and he comes back with, "Oh that's the theme from The Magnificent Seven, by one of my favorite composers, Elmer Bernstein..." Of course it is. Of course Dale not only knew the answer to our question but was funny and kind and generous with his knowledge and time.
I miss Dale, even though I didn't meet or speak with him regularly. Just knowing that he isn't around makes the world a less interesting place. I think he had so much more to share and I am sad and disappointed that I didn't ask more questions of him when I had the chance.
So, at the end of this year, remember those that we care about who are no longer around, and take time out to think of those who are still with us that we don't appreciate enough.
Many Happy Returns~