Dick Doyscher: A Man for a Few More Seasons

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If the world is full of extraordinary people, Dick Doyscher is probably not considered one of them.  Therein lies a major flaw with our priorities.  Every day, we are inundated with news of people who capture the limelight.  Some for stupid reasons, some for evil reasons but very few for reasons that are really meaningful.  We have become so accustomed to stories of people who have won 4000 gold medals, who have made $50,000,000,000 dollars with a new line of running shoes, who are four year old virtuosos that can sing the Soprano role of Gilda in Rigoletto or who can dance “Thriller” better than Michael Jackson.  We are bombarded with endless details of nut cases who have gone out and shot 45 people with an assault rifle.  The news is so full of garbage that people like Dick Doyscher are invisible.  Dick may not be extraordinary, but he is truly remarkable.  To paraphrase the “History Guy”, Dick deserves to be remembered.

As we get older, we no doubt read more and more obituaries.  The typical obituary is not like an obituary written for Princess Diana or Kobe Bryant.  People write books about the rich and famous.  The typical obituary for us common folk is one or two paragraphs long usually ending with something like:

“They worked as an air conditioner repair person for thirty years until they retired.  After retiring they took up gardening and were known for helping their neighbors plant flowers.  They were loved by all and will be dearly missed.” 

Perhaps a beautiful life rolled up into a few paragraphs and a short sweet ending.  You still know little or nothing about the deceased except that they loved flowers and died.  So sad.

Well, I wanted to say something about Dick while he is still alive.  You should know why he is a remarkable individual because I am sure it will not be listed in his obit.  He is now 80 years old as he loves to remind us.  He is fond of saying, “Well, when you are as old as I am.”  I think he knows this drives me crazy.  I will perhaps never be old enough to say “I told you so” to Dick since he will either a.) always be older than me or b.) when I turn 80, he will not be around anymore.  So really, I am writing this blog about him as a way of getting even with him for all the times that he has flaunted his age in our library group.  But before I tell you why he is remarkable, a short background on how I came to know Dick.

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Ten years ago when we moved to Frederic, I discovered a bunch of guys (See the “Old Library Guys”) who meet daily in the Frederic Public Library for free coffee and donuts.  There are about seven or eight of these guys who are sometimes joined by wives or women in the library.  We are not gender exclusive, but our conversations tend to be around politics, cars, guns and local goings on.  A few years ago, we created a “Last Man Standing Bottle.”  We purchased a bottle of “Old Grand Dad 114 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” (Seemed appropriate) and sealed it in a wooden case with seven of our names on it.  Three of the men on the bottle are now deceased.  Dick and I remain among the living with two other men.

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When I first met Dick, I cannot say that I was impressed.  He was a retired mechanic with a younger attractive wife (Gladys, who I will talk about later) and no formal education beyond high school.  Dick liked cars and guns and some music.  He did not show much interest in reading the great books, traveling to exotic places or listening to classical concerts.  He did like one pianist named Lorie Line than he had heard but he felt little need to explore other pianists.  I nicknamed him “Dick the Stick.”  This was short for “stick in the mud.”

By all known stereotypes, Dick should have been a classic Red Neck.  Now even Red Necks can be kind and caring individuals and you might be thinking that perhaps Dick the Stick was a kind individual who lent money to other people and helped them dig their gardens.  If so, you would be dead wrong.  Dick does not believe in lending money.  He says we should go to the bank for that and he does not do much heavy lifting since he has a bad back.

So nothing remarkable about Dick yet.  But as the years went by, I started to learn more and more about Dick.  Politically, he did not conform to stereotypes.  He is one of the most open minded and creative political thinkers I have ever met.  He argued with me for years that the USA is in a sort of decline like the Roman Empire.  It took me several years to come to believe that he is probably right.  Nevertheless, he supported Obama and Biden even voted for them despite his belief that we were wasting our time voting.

Many of our politicians seem to thrive on fear or greed.  Many of the constituents that continually reelect these self-serving politicos swoon to their melody of greed and fear.  The politicians pander to these base needs as they extort more and more money for their never-ending re-election campaigns.  The broader interest of the world is suborned to the petty greed and fear of their constituents.  Dick is not swayed by either fear or greed.  Dick is a thinker who sees beyond any narrow horizons to think about the good of others and not just his family and friends.

Now Dick has been a hunter and still has a cache of guns in his house.  But again breaking stereotypes for such men in the North woods, Dick is no supporter of the NRA nor some of the rabid positions they have taken on gun control.  Dick is a pragmatist when it comes to gun control and supports an element of sensible controls without trying to take all guns away from the second amendment supporters.

I mentioned his wife Gladys.  Gladys loves to travel, but Dick the Stick says, “My traveling days are over.”  When I first heard many years ago that Gladys was going on an exotic bike, hike or kayak trip, I thought to myself “Well, Dick, you will never see her again.  She will find some kayaking stud and that is the end of your relationship.”  To my surprise, Gladys returned home trip after trip.  Over the years she has gone on many trips abroad without Dick the Stick and always comes back.   Dick is more than supportive and never questions her trips or the financial aspects.  He is one of the least jealous men I have ever met.  Gladys and Dick respect each other as individuals, and each pursues interests both together and apart.

Gladys mirrors another remarkable aspect of Dicks character.  Both are very caring individuals without being obvious or obtrusive about it.  Dick befriended Brian Rogers who was one of the men in our “Last Man Standing” group.  Brian had cerebral palsy and was becoming more and more disabled from the disease.  Dick seemed to know just how to help Brian and they became very close.  Brian would not take charity or help from anyone and was very independent.  However, they formed an almost symbiotic relationship with Brian helping Dick with his depression and Dick helping Brian with his cerebral palsy.  It was a beautiful relationship which ended when Brian died.

Dick has helped other men in the group who need help.  I am often surprised by his ability to transcend insults or sometimes mean-spirited attacks by people in our group.  He will forget the insult and if he sees that the person needs help, Dick will make a phone call, pay a visit or extend a hand to help.  I might say “Screw him Dick” but Dick will say “He is not feeling well” or “He has had a string of bad luck.”  I will stick by “Screw him” but not Dick.  Dick is always willing to forgive and forget any slight that I have seen leveled at him.

His wife Gladys works part-time with a community church, but I have often seen her at other churches where she helps out with the events or dinners.  Many of the churches in our community have an aging population and need help with volunteers because of the older ages in the church.  Gladys has done more than her share to help other churches.  I mentioned that she mirrors Dick, but it is fair to say that it works both ways.  Dick mirrors Gladys in her compassion for others.

beaver tshirtNow less this sound too much like a soap opera, I should point out some of the character flaws that are obvious with Dick.  He once had a battle with some beavers that resided on his property.  These beavers were adept at building a dam using a stream that flowed near a road leading to Dick’s house.  The dam would cause the water to back up flooding the road.  Dick would go out there and break up the dam but faster than you could say “Dick the Stick” the beavers would rebuild the dam.  I asked Dick why he did not shoot the suckers.  Dick replied that he promised Gladys that he would not kill them but try to get them to relocate.  So periodically Dick would come in with his back aching from breaking up the dam and I would say “Give me your rifle and I will shoot the suckers for you.”  Dick would never do this.  I finally bought him a t-shirt with “Beaver Advice” on it.

new-2018-summer-vladimir-putin-t-shirts-menI mentioned that Dick does not want to travel anywhere (Except maybe Duluth).  I would attribute his “been there, done it” to a possible birth or brain defect but to be fair Dick did go to England, Peru and a bunch of other countries when he was younger.  Furthermore, unlike some people, he is always interested in hearing about the travels of Gladys and others in the group.  I am going to Russia this coming year and I keep telling him that I am going to have an audience with President Putin.  Dick often jokes about Putin and his strong political resolve.  I may bring him a Putin t-shirt when I come back from Moscow, assuming that I am allowed to leave the country.

Well, “That’s all Folks” as Porky Pig used to say.  I am not expecting Dick to go anytime soon.  But in case he does, you will all know some things about him now that probably will not be in the Frederic Inter-county Leader.  I think he is a remarkable man and maybe if he reads this, he will remember me in his last will and testament.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jennygirl1278
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 06:24:33

    I would love to meet Dick when I am in Wisconsin this year. See you in August provided the Corona virus does not impede travel.

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  2. Dr. John Persico Jr.
    Feb 02, 2023 @ 08:09:28

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I wrote the following blog on March 4, 2020. Dick died Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Dick was 83 years old. He took his own life. I learned about it this morning when I tried to call him. I called him yesterday but did not get a reply which was unlike Dick. The last time I talked to him was four days ago and he sounded cheerful and upbeat and not noting any health problems other the usual aches and pains of old age. I wrote this blog about Dick because I regarded him and his wife Gladys as remarkable if not extraordinary people and good friends. It is easy to overlook people like Dick because “extraordinary” is peculiarly defined by our media and news sources. Following is the blog that I wrote three years ago.

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  3. John Dorschner
    Feb 02, 2023 @ 08:17:03

    He was a hell of a guy … Smart/balanced/insightful, great anecdotes about all sorts of things. … He will be truly missed.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Feb 02, 2023 @ 08:41:55

      We want to have some kind of celebration for Dick this summer. Gladys said that there would probably not be a funeral since Dick did not want anything special when he died. Reggie and I discussed some type of ceremony like we had for Brian and Jerry to take place outside if the weather is good. No firm plans yet. Thanks for the comment. John

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