Dan Ivy is being buried today. Once I heard that Dan was in poor health I should have made more of an effort to make contact with him. Tracy says I should be ashamed of myself, and I am.
When I was in ICU some years back, it occurred to Dan that he should call my house, and once I was moved a regular room, he came to see me in the hospital.
Lots of folks had a lot of fun at Dan’s expense over the years – certainly his “Rebel Attorney” TV ads didn’t help any – but he and I both shared a moral repugnance for temporary employment agencies.
Dan himself said that there was no such thing as bad publicity, and by the merits of that simple argument, he had plenty of good publicity in his time. But beyond the headlines was another Dan Ivy, one the general public had little to no knowledge of.
Born into poverty and dropping bout of school in the fifth grade so he could help put food on the table, he returned to school as a young man. After earning his GED he went onto to college and then to law school.
When I interviewed Dan for the Ozark Gazette in 2002 he told me, “I had a speech impediment. People thought that I was possibly mentally retarded.” But in his 30s he went to a speech pathologist, and discovered that he had an audio perception problem.
With the speech pathologist’s help, he overcame his difficulties.
In 1990 he ran against John Paul Hammerschmidt for Congress, and again in 1992, losing both times but still drawing respectable numbers. Those who saw Dan only as a conservative might be surprised to learn that he began his political career as a Democrat.
He also unsuccessfully ran for Lt. Governor and Attorney General, saying that his run for A.G. was inspired by his concern over the accusations that the CIA was using the Mena airport in their convoluted drugs-and-guns scheming.
It was his hope, if elected, to investigate the claims.
He was also a public access producer. In fact, the first time I met Dan was when he took a studio class I taught.
And today, they are burying Dan Ivy.
Dan Ivy was what folks might refer to as a character – an eccentric, if you will – sometimes as if that were a bad thing, or something to be avoided at all costs.
Communities need men and women like Dan Ivy, folks who don’t seek the life of the bland, the safe life of one consumed by their personal reputation, or their standing in the community. Colorful folks who just want to do the right thing.
Because it is through people like Dan Ivy that we prosper as a community. Perhaps not in any financial sense, or in any way that might matter to a developer, but in a true spiritual sense.
They keep a community in touch with its own humanity, and its own diversity.
They are burying Dan Ivy today.
Let us celebrate and honor the characters, the eccentrics, those who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd, before the steamroller of civic progress rolls over them and what they give to the community.
Now on YouTube – Dr. Joanie Connors: Surviving Trauma
This is a program I produced for the Women’s Festival and Conference, which was held yearly at the University of Arkansas, until their funding was unceremoniously yanked away.
Quote of the Day
“A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies.” – Gustave Flaubert