Oklahoma’s elderly lost a key supporter in the Oklahoma legislature last Friday. Representative David Dank died in his home of an apparent heart attack. His funeral is today.
David and I were friends for 35 years. In all that time, he never told me a lie. He was always someone I could turn to for help.
David was a principled legislator who saw corruption and tried to end it and who stood unfailingly for the needs of elderly people. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me if I was worried about what would happen to the Adult Day Care program here in Oklahoma without me in the legislature to defend it.
“David’s there,” I said. “He’ll take care of it.”
Now, with David gone, I fear for the program, and for all programs that help elderly people in this state.
David’s wife Odelia was a former legislator herself. A few years back, Odelia was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. David took care of Odelia through the hard times of that illness.
I remember once I was walking into the capital as David was rushing out. I called hello to him across the oval.
“I can’t talk now,” he said. “Delia fell.”
I’ll never forget how upset he was on that day, or how sad he was as her disease progressed toward its inevitable end. He took care of Odelia while he fought the good fight against corrupt practices in the legislature. That was heroic for anyone, but David was not exactly a spring chicken himself at the time.
We had lunch with a group of friends last December. He talked about Odelia a lot during that lunch. At one point he said that all he wanted was to follow Jesus and be as good a person as he could so that when he died he could go be with Odelia.
The last time I saw David was a few weeks ago. I stopped in at St Joe’s for noon mass. David went to mass there every day, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him, sitting in his usual place in a pew on the back row.
I scooted into a seat beside him, and we attended mass together. After mass was over, when we were heading out on our separate ways, he reached out and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.
“Bye Darlin’,” he said, “I’ll see you later.”