Today my family had the honor of joining the family and friends of Dr. Dale Flowerday to pay tribute to his memory. I knew him as Uncle Dale for he was an older brother of my mother’s. He was born and grew up in the heartland of this country, in Seward, Nebraska, where he learned through experience the love of the land, its agriculture, and its people. He gave his heart and soul to learning and teaching about this passion about the land; he taught many a young agronomy student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and guided many more through their doctoral programs, but, as one individual said at his service today, his real love was when he was out “on the land” in the fields.
As a young boy of about 12, I remember a very special visit from Uncle Dale, Aunt Alice, and the boys. Dale and the family were heading down to Columbia, South America, to establish that country’s version of the Agricultural Extension Service. The time was a long two years, but the country was, no doubt, much the better for his time and experience.
It might have been a part of that same time with them before their trip south that Dale, his family, and I headed for a brief excursion to Gettysburg Battle Field. How was I to know that the journey was to begin my life-long passion for Civil War history. We were driving through the ‘burg, when my Aunt Alice quickly saw that they were having a town-wide sidewalk sale. She indicated that she would rather spend the day shopping the sales than walking around the hot battlefield. I believe she would have jumped out of the car if my Uncle Dale hadn’t locked her door and drove just a bit faster.
Memories are funny things, but maybe they are there to help us deal with times of sadness and grief. I am sad for Dale’s passing, but I laugh and smile for the very special memories like the trip to Gettysburg that will live in my memory of my uncle as long as I live. And, by the way, I graduated with a degree of Agronomy with a specialty in Soils, just the very area that Dr. Flowerday taught. Probably not an accidental choice of fields.