Friday, January 30, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Bob Dunning: Saying farewell to old friends

BobDunning2W

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From page A2 | April 23, 2013 |

A LIFE WELL LIVED … Jay Gerber, who passed away on Picnic Day, was many things to many people in this town, but to former mayor Ruth Asmundson, he was mostly the best neighbor and friend anyone could hope for …

“They moved in right across the street six months after we moved here,” Asmundson explained of the quiet Central Davis street her family shared with Jay, his wife Cynthia, and later their children … “We were like parents to each other’s children,” Ruth noted of her neighbors for the last 33 years … “I know people always say nice things when someone dies, but we were all saying nice things about Jay from the first day we met him. He was always kind, caring, thoughtful and considerate. It was a wonderful friendship we had, but it was really much, much more than a friendship. He meant an awful lot to so many people.” …

Indeed, Asmundson’s experience as Jay Gerber’s neighbor could be repeated by dozens and dozens of Davisites who encountered Jay in other aspects of his amazingly involved life … he was constantly giving of his time and talents to the Davis community, but his activism was more for civic projects than city politics … I admired Jay, not only because he invariably had a kind word for everyone who crossed his path, but because he had the infinite wisdom never to run for public office in this town, even though he was urged to do so many times and was a virtual certainty to be elected …

Added Asmundson: “Jay was always available for the community and for individuals and was involved in so many things it’s impossible to enumerate them all. We’re going to miss him. We were fortunate to have him in Davis for so long as he helped to make Davis a wonderful place to live and grow.” …

Many of us have benefitted directly over the years from Jay’s kindness, perhaps by being on the receiving end of an encouraging word or a friendly smile, but many more people who never met Jay have benefitted from his passion for Davis and his unrelenting civic involvement … God graced our town the day Jay and Cynthia moved here … we have all been blessed by their presence ever since …

ANOTHER GREAT ONE LEAVES US … Terry Turner, who died last week at the age of 74, was one of a handful of Davisites who were true pioneers of the civil rights movement and helped to inspire several generations that followed … Terry was one of a small group of local residents who participated in the freedom march with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma, Ala., in 1965, and he never gave up his quest or his fight for equal rights for all citizens of our country …

Those of us who were fortunate enough to cross paths with Terry over the years remember him as a kind, caring and passionate soul who always had time to listen to what was on your mind … he made our town and our world a much better place … his life and his efforts will not be forgotten …

EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE … thanks in part to a spirited competition between neighborhood float-building groups in Central Davis and East Davis, Saturday’s Picnic Day parade took a step back toward its glory days when elaborate floats graced the parade route through campus and the downtown …

Perhaps inspired by the efforts of these two neighborhood groups, the Davis Chamber, which helped to sponsor the Central Davis float, has already announced plans to build its own float next year, and rumor has it one or two groups from Woodland are planning to enter the competition as well … it’s certainly a wonderful step in the right direction for those who remember those long-ago parades with great fondness …

The elegant Central Davis float featured a giant Kodak Brownie camera and “snapshots” of various folks in the neighborhood, but it was hard to tell who was having more fun — the spectators along the parade route or the Central Davisites riding the float and blowing bubbles to the crowd … the detailed East Davis float — accurately themed “East Davis: Where the Sun Rises First” — depicted many of that neighborhood’s landmarks and wild creatures, including George’s Corner, a variety of turkeys, chickens, raccoons, rats, frogs and even a cockroach, plus the East Davis Greenbelt (the cemetery), Toad Hollow, Davis Waste Removal, Goodyear, the Pole Line overpass and, of course, the defining western boundary of East Davis, the railroad tracks …

Among the sponsors who contributed mightily to the float’s success were Vander Hamm Goodyear, Davis Waste Removal, Bikram Yoga, Grocery Outlet, MAK Design and Build and Blisworks Bikes … as one who had a small part with the East Davis group — they regularly sent me out for pizza, but wouldn’t let me near the actual float — I can attest that the final, frenzied Friday night of construction in a Goodyear service bay was like an old-fashioned barn raising in North Dakota … everyone pitched in and everyone had a great time …

I heard similar stories from the Central Davis folks … the hardest part came Sunday afternoon when all those efforts had to be deconstructed … I suggested saving the float intact and entering it in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, but was shot down by the exhausted volunteers who actually did the heavy lifting on this project… next year, expect at least half a dozen such floats … a hallowed tradition has been reawakened by the dedicated efforts of these two groups …

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

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