My Friend Dave

The old saying about people coming into your life and leaving footprints on your heart really came home to roost in my psyche this week in hearing the sad news of the passing of my friend of 20+ years, Mr. David Gettling. I don’t want this blog post to be a listing of his feats of prowess (he consistently beat me in golf, poker, fantasy baseball) and intellectual strength (I learned a lot from this man!), but more a recap of what a real friend is to all of us and what he does in his life.

Dave and I had drifted apart a bit in the last few years. I went overseas and found a new life working in International Schools. He worked and then retired from schools in Oregon, spending more time with family, his 2nd career (house painter) and working at Lewis and Clark. Dave, as I understand it, was as busy as always, and still remained connected to the education community in the Beaverton, Oregon area. My memories of him have nothing to do with these past few years, but more in the early parts of my career.

Dave was a 6th grade teacher in the school I took my first teaching job. He settled with me quickly that we were going to be good buddies and we played golf, worked on tech projects, learned to build and move ideas forward and most importantly he taught me that a good laugh and a joke go a long way to building a community of learners both in classrooms with kids and with faculties and parent community. He is my model of trustbuilding. He faced adversity and disagreement with grace and the ever-present smile. His laugh could be heard for miles.

The thing I will most miss about Dave was his heartfelt concern for all of his friends. He would, in past years, just drop me a note to check in on me. In a recent email volley we joked about his new, unfinished Facebook page, and when we would play golf again when I got back to Oregon. I am sad to say I didn’t find the time to get those rounds of golf in with my friend. My life and his life was full of other things and alas, our families and our other commitments fill our time. Now he’s gone and I won’t get a chance to say thanks to him for his support and friendship over the 20+ years

Dave… if you can read this from where you are now: Thanks Man! I am going to miss you.

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11 Responses to My Friend Dave

  1. b says:


    A heavy weight on my heart. I remember those times I visited with Dave and we talked about you. He was so very proud.


  2. John Matsuo says:


    It is gret to see your blog, and with respect to Dave, I share many of the same sentiments. I came to HSD the same year, you made your quick but memorable stop. That was when I met Dave as he was my mentor, but as you stated he decided we would be friends. I can’t even begin to think of the lives he affected. I am just glad to have had the time with him I did.

    John Matsuo

  3. Tony Cox says:

    Andy–I got your blog forwarded to me from Janis Hill, who I replaced on an interim basis as Principal at Jackson Elementary, while she works as a planning principal for the new Quatama Elementary School in Hillsboro. It’s a sad fact of life that if takes a funeral to get people back together. It’s good to get caught up with what you’re doing, and to be reminded of our common friend, Dave. He & I enjoyed sharing crazy principal/teacher/student/parent/central office administrator stories, and I always wondered how he found the energy to paint houses every summer! (He painted my house.) Dave’s sudden death is a reminder to “live in the moment” as our future is not a guarantee! Best Wishes, Tony Cox

  4. Diane Carter says:

    Your thoughtful and sincere words bring a smile to me face. There will always be a “bit of Dave” that we will carry with us; I too, learned so much from him. I will always be able to see and feel “his ever present smile” in my heart.

  5. Mike says:

    All what you have said rings a bell with me. I hired Dave in the mid-70’s as a fourth grade teacher. I met him first at Outdoor School while he was working in Forest Grove. He was an outstanding teacher, good friend, excellent family man, and above all, he was a great human being. I too, should have kept contact with him, but as life goes on, one makes decisions that keep contacts at a minimum. He will be missed. I regret I did not reach out to him after I retired.

  6. Janis says:

    Andy, thank you for your words on Dave. You always were able to capture the essence of things in your writing! It’s good to see that hasn’t changed. It is because of you and Sally that Dave first touched my life. He will be missed by multitudes of people (some of which he knew well, and some that he did not!!) Thanks for writing!!

  7. Susan Clark says:

    I am a former student from Harvey Clarke Elementary. Mr. Gettling team- taught with my Dad, Jim Dickson, back in the mid-seventies. He was one of my favorite teachers. He used to come over to our house off and on during that time. He had a wonderful sense of humor. My dad liked to play poker with him and some of the other guys at school. I think they played in the boiler room before school 🙂 He and Dad greatly enjoyed Outdoor School together…Dad was at Camp Yamhill and he was at Canyonview with my class. Together, they’d come up with pranks to pull…boy do I have stories….My Dad passed away a few years back, so I am sure they’re now hanging around together catching up. He will be missed.

  8. Neal says:


    Thanks for the really kind words about Dad. I was just talking to Mom and she said that she found it through a google search, so I did the same search to find it. Like John said above in a comment, you captured it perfectly when you say that he would just decide to be friends. A quick conversation and a smile was all it took for him to win your heart.


  9. Sam Croskell says:

    David Gettling was on my mind this past week, around April 24 or so – wondering how he was handling retirement or travel or house painting or golf. Now I know why.
    The call alerting me to Dave’s passing came this morning, from my brother, residing in Medford. The memory album instantly flashed before me.
    We’d not seen one another for 2, perhaps 3 years. We met for lunch – Dave was easily recognized, seemingly unchanged from our youth – the infectious smile, his equally contagious laugh and quick humor the same as I remembered from the last of sighting one another some 30 years ago in Southern Oregon. We’d abandoned our childhood nests for college, then disbursed by the wind. We’d settled only a few miles from one another in the Portland area for some years.
    Dave and I were fast friends through 4-H summer schools, camps, county fairs. Dave raised sheep. I had project in sheep, swine and other disciplines. Dave never held my association with pigs against me thankfully. We were 4-H camp counselors together, shared friendships and associations that have spanned the years, despite lacking renewals.
    Chatting over lunch the last time we saw one another was fast and far too short. Dave was easy and bright eyed, ready wit and quick to engage. I regret I’d not followed through our “let’s have lunch again” commitment sooner. Now I’ll just have lunch with Dave in my vision.

  10. Julie Palmer Sabo says:

    Mr. Gettling was my 4th Grade teacher at Bethany Elem. School. He was my favorite teacher. He was fair and funny and made me want to learn. I will never forget him. I did not know of his passing until today, many years later when I too did a Google search to find him. He helped encourage a friendship between one of my classmates and I, a friendship which has lasted 30+ years. To Mr. Gettlings family and friends just know that he touched a lot of lives and inspired me personally. The power of one person and one good teacher should never be underestimated.

  11. Sarah Wiley McGee says:

    I just read about Mr. Gettling’s passing today and I am heartbroken. I missed my opportunity to do what I’ve wanted to do for many years: say thank you. He was my 6th grade teacher in the late 80’s at Errol Hassell and he was “the” cool teacher. I enjoyed his style as a kid because he kept things interesting, made us laugh and took everything in stride. He treated us like people, not kids. What did he do when I dressed up as him for the Halloween parade? Laugh and pose for a picture with me! What did he do when I made him the center of our skit at Outdoor School? Play along! What did he do when I didn’t like two boys in our class? Make me sit in between them in the front row! He was a special teacher and I am sad I will not get the opportunity to know him as a person (and call him Dave). To his family and close friends, thank you for sharing him with us. It made all the difference.

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