DEE WAYNE DODGE
Our classmate Wayne Dodge died a few days ago in New Zealand.
If you didn't know him I hope these remarks I was asked to write for his eulogy capture something of his spirit.
Wayne and I were friends for 43 years. Like the Roman poet Catullus, I wish I could stand with you today and say -- as he once wrote in elegant Latin -- 'Through many nations, and distant waters sped / Brother, to these wretched rites am I come.'
Although I'm still in the United States, however, I trust you will know I am with you in spirit.
Wayne and I were together continually for about six years, between ages 16 and 22; good years for friendships. We first met in high school and then went off together to the University of Florida. From the beginning I think we just enjoyed each other's company more than we enjoyed anyone else's company.
Wayne was one of whom it could truly be said: 'He was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad.' Perhaps not mad, exactly, but certainly sometimes amusing.
We went to high school in Miami, a crazy place full of tourists, con-men, impostors, revolutionaries, gangsters, celebrities -- the rich, the pompous, the greased and the sunburned.
And so we amused one another, assuming the theatrical voice and manner of characters we invented, or those we liked to parody. One of us would begin an invented conversation in the voice of -- say -- John F. Kennedy lounging in his Palm Beach villa and the other would reply in the voice of a bass fisherman angry about naval bombing exercises near his backwater shack in the Florida Keys.
We liked to put visitors on, claiming to be wealthy smugglers or sons of Latin American dictators. We may have had serious moments during those years but I hardly remember them.
Instead I remember when we foolishly tried to study all night for an early morning history exam at the university. We both fell asleep about four o'clock, books piled on tables, coffee on the stove. When I awoke about 8:30 I walked over to his charir, put my hand gently on his shoulder and shouted with a Scottish burr: 'Do not panic, mon. The exam began 30 minutes ago. Follow my instructions!' Less than 15 minutes later we were writing our essays in our classroom and trying to stifle laughter. We both did quite well.
A few years ago I mentioned to Wayne that I was struggling with a speech I had to write. He gave me good advice: 'Talk about the future,' he said. 'I always talk about the future when I give a speech. Nobody knows anything about the future. You can't be wrong.'
So let me try that advice here.
In the future, I predict we will all miss Wayne enormously.
In the future, I predict we will know -- even more clearly than we do now -- how wise, kind, and good he was.
He was, you know.
Wayne saw the best in people.
Anyone who really knew and loved Wayne will never forget him and never want to disappoint him.
The last time I saw Wayne he was leaving on the first leg of the journey that would take him to Africa to serve with the Peace Corps. We had agreed that I wouldn't come to the little airport and do anything that might be too sentimental, or anything that would embarrass him. We just shook hands earlier that day, and wished each other well.
Not a chance. I got to the airpoirt just as the hatch was closed on his small plane. I could see him clearly at one of the aft windows. When he spotted me scattering flowers on the runway and waving, he broke into that wonderful broad grin he had, gave me a farewell salute, and took off into the morning sky on this first great international adventure.
I see him now, smiling again, with an even more promising itinerary.
Paul Ashdown May 19,2004
DEE WAYNE DODGE BIOGRAPHY (Written by Wayne for 40th Reunion)
9 Wiles Avenue
Auckland, New Zealand
After leaving high school I attended the University of Florida and graduated in '66. Following that I was a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa for two years and decided to follow a career that would involve an international focus. For my whole career I've been in the airline business...first with Pan Am, then United, then Air New Zealand. I am now Vice President and General Manager of a wholly owned subsidiary of Air NZ called Freedom Air. It's an international airline that flies in New Zealand and between New Zealand and Australia. Our website is freedomair.com if you would like to know more. I've been living in New Zealand since 1984 and hold dual citizenship--USA and NZ. (Yes, you can legally do that.) I am married to a New Zealander and we have two boys aged 12 and 14.