I first got to know Dave in 1972. He was a successful underground utility contractor and very well respected in the business. His office was located in Lubbock.
Dave was my mentor, someone I could learn from. I figured if I watch him and handle my business like he did, I surely be successful.
My first subcontract was working for him installing water lines in Burnet, Texas. It was actually more complicated than that. I was a sub to another sub that subcontracted to Dave’s company. That happens in our business a lot. Ok if you aren’t too confused I’ll continue.
Throughout the 1970s I worked with Dave several times. He had an enormous capacity for numbers. I learned a lot from him. There came a time in the 80s that I couldn’t bond the size of jobs (that’s terminology meaning I couldn’t handle the business and financial end of the business to satisfy the size company I had) so Dave came along to help me.
He must have trusted my judgement because he backed me on many multi-million dollar projects, never asking for numbers from me prior to entering in to contracts on my behalf. He was located in Lubbock and I was in Austin. A phone call allowed me to bid any job that I desired.
Dave had the ability to handled more work from the business and financial side than he had the employees to actually do the work. So a very mutually beneficial arraignment was entered into. We continued do work as a team for several years, that was only interrupted by his deciding to retire and my decision to sell an interest in my company.
Dave and I help to establish a statewide association in 1985 that looked after the interests of our industry and we traveled with our wives to many locations around the country, including regular trips to Washington DC.
Dave was a pilot and always flew his own plane. He, as a young man flew in WW-ll. If you ever watch an old war movie and they talk about “flying over the hump”, that is in reference to flying over Himalayas, where many planes were lost to the treacherous conditions. Dave flew in that campaign and came home safely. He was a great pilot as well as a great man.
I flew with him many times. I always knew if Dave was at the controls, there was nothing to worry about. He had a $1.5 million turbo-prop plane. The nicest plane in it’s class.
One day in 1992 I got a call from Betty, Dave’s wife. After a 50 year flying career, he had flown from Lubbock to Pagossa Springs, Colorado where they had a second home. He dropped Betty off at the airport. He just wanted to fly some more to enjoy the beautiful scenery..
Why he flew into the side of a mountain was never known. But he died, doing what he loved.
More On Dave
After posting this story the first time, my cousin Tommye Dorbandt Potts pointed out that Dave was her husband John’s uncle. I hadn’t mentioned that Dave was originally from Burnet, Tx, or even his last name. It just didn’t seem important to the story.
She recognized who I was taking about and commented about the connection. It makes me once again thankful for the creation of this group. It shows us once again so much more about what the six degrees of separation principle is all about.
So I’ll add some more about my travels with Dave.
If you read my story from a couple of weeks ago about Mrs Little up in Stephens Country, Dave was sitting at the big table with all the others. That night was the turning point in our relationship that cemented a connection that couldn’t be broken.
I am reminded about a day when I met Dave in Mexia, Texas. We were bidding a big project. My sidekick Woody was with me. We all three drove all over that area that day looking at a big waterline that was several miles long.
When we got back to the hotel we cleaned up then met for dinner. The restaurant was serving all you could eat fried shrimp. It was a buffet. Dave had been so thorough at looking at the job that we had missed lunch. He and Woody marveled that when I was finished eating I had 12 little bowls (they were small bowls) stacked up where I had made trips back for more shrimp. We never ate a meal together again that he didn’t mention the amount of shrimp I could consume at one setting.
The next morning when we got to breakfast Dave looked very befuddled. During the night, he had failed to put on the safety chain. Someone had entered his room and stole his brief case and wallet while he slept. That unnerved him to no end, as it did us all. We weren’t successful on the bid. Neither of us could really get our act together that day.