Sometimes the lives of people are like a river and a road. You travel the road and you find yourself alongside a river, and each byway twists and turns, sometimes closer and sometimes out of sight, but always headed in the same direction. It was like that for me and Dave Linksz, longtime Howellite, former county commissioner and later head of the county’s transportation department.
Dave died this week after a short bout with pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered as a calm, competent man who always managed to remain unruffled. One of those who in a crisis keeps his head when all around him are losing theirs.
I was one of those who got the news of his illness in time to talk to him by phone the week before he was gone. He was his usual imperturbable self as I uttered the usual banalities about fighting on, getting better, you can beat this. “We’ll see” was all that he said. I thought I would see him many more times during his ordeal.
It was not to be.
It was one of those friendships in which you sometimes lose track of the other, but when you run into each other again it’s as if you never lost a beat. Our eldest daughter was best friends with his wife’s sister, our children attended Howell High with his Amy and Rebecca. He had a daughter Amy and so did we.
I met Dave almost 40 years ago shortly after I moved to Howell to practice law. My wife Barbara and I often double dated with Dave and his wife Geri, whose family lived in Howell. Dave was from out East somewhere, New York I think. His dad was a noted ophthalmologist, and was able to recommend a Michigan surgeon for our youngest daughter Amy’s out-of-sync eye problem.
Dave and Geri went their separate ways, and she died tragically young of a heart attack a decade or so ago. Although we didn’t pal around a lot during our working careers, I as a Circuit Court judge, he in a variety of important posts, we did a lot of catching up in the last couple of years after I retired…
I found out that Dave was a golfer only marginally better than me, so of course we were a good match on the links. We golfed up north a few times and more or less regularly at Hawk Meadows north of Howell. He was perfect to round out the foursome of me and the two other hackers I slash at the grass with, although sometimes he drove me crazy with the methodical way he set up his shot, cleaned his club, and readjusted his battered white hat that looked like it was surplus from the Crimean War.
He retired five years or so ago. I hung it up almost two years ago. We talked about heading out West together to see Montana and Wyoming, Yellowstone and all of it. It would have been the trip of a lifetime, I remember him saying. Neither of us ended up going. It just didn’t work out. But there was always next year.
Dave’s parents lived an interesting life. They were refugees from Nazi Europe, managing to get out of Hungary just in time before the door closed and the lights went out. When I told Dave of our approaching trip to Budapest last summer, he recalled his recent visit to that beautiful city on the Danube and how he visited the very apartment that his parents lived in just before they fled the fascists.
I and so many others will miss Dave, and regret that we never had a chance to say a proper goodbye, but of course it’s almost always that way it is, isn’t it. I wish we could have gone out West together, and I wish that just once I could have beaten him at golf. Just once.
I am comforted by the knowledge that we will all meet again. Do they play golf in heaven?
Visitation for Dave Linksz is 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday at MacDonald’s Funeral Home, 315 N. Michigan Ave. in downtown Howell. Funeral services begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.