This Saturday, June 27th, 2015, was the memorial for Dale Comer. This is the text of the speech I gave.
At the memorial, the Dale Comer Scholarship was announced, providing at least $500 a year for Broadcast Engineering students at Bates Technical College in Tacoma. If you would like to make a donation, send a check with “Dale Comer Scholarship” on the memo line to:
KBTC Public Television
2320 S. 19th St
Tacoma, WA 98405
When Dale passed away, I was devastated. He was my best friend. The last time I talked to him on the phone, it sounded like he was actually on the upswing, so when I found out he was fading fast, it hit extra hard.
I was lucky enough to visit him before he passed, and even though he couldn’t really talk, he was still there, he could still communicate. And… even as he lay dying, HE comforted ME when I broke down crying. That’s kind of Dale in a nutshell.
And it hurts to realize that he’s not there now. That I can’t call him and chat about new shows that have been coming out, what new hilarious thing just happened, or just chatting. It’s hard not having him here. We can’t do another TV Vacation like we used to do, where we’d each just take a week or so off work and hang out and marathon TV shows and go to movies and just… relax.
But shortly after Dale died, I was telling one of my friends about him. My friend Konstantin lives in Russia, and yet I’d mentioned Dale a lot to him, just because Dale’s a big part of my life. And when I finally told him that Dale passed, he told me something incredibly sweet – that one day he’d dreamed about coming to Seattle and getting to meet Dale in person, and hang out, watch TV and movies with us. And that he was sad that couldn’t happen anymore.
But Konstantin also said something else. He reminded me that Dale’s not gone. He lives on when we talk about him. He lives in our heads, in our hearts, in our words and actions. And the best thing about talking about him? That just means that Dale gets to live on – at least a little bit – in someone else’s head and heart too.
We all have different memories of Dale. We all knew different aspects of what made him Dale. And that’s how we keep him alive. We think about him and we talk about him. We tell ourselves about him, we tell others.
In a way, it’s like having a Cloud Backup or a Torrent of him. Different aspects of him are stored all across the world. Seattle, Tacoma, Coeur D’Alene may have the highest concentration of Dale-ness, but he’s stored in Tobago where he visited in J-Term, he’s stored in Memphis where he and Carly took a road trip to. He’s stored in Russia with Konstantin.
He might not have evolved to a being of pure energy like Mike and the bots in the last Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and trust me, he would have loved the fact that I’m talking about MST3K at his memorial… and he would probably be mad if I didn’t mention that the episode was Laserblast featuring Eddie Deezen and is a particularly good one). Even though he’s NOT pure energy, he HAS evolved into a different, and more appropriate form… communication, the most refined, core aspect of what media are. Dale devoted his life to communication, and so it seems particularly apt that that’s where Dale is alive – the act of speech, of sharing thoughts, sharing ideas, sharing Dale.
The very last time I saw him, as we were leaving, he held up a peace sign. This seems so appropriate. Quiet, yet undeniably cool and smart. That’s the Dale I know. Brilliant, yet casual. Quintessential Dale. And, again – the perfect thing to say, even when words didn’t… couldn’t come.
But that’s Dale. And that’s why I share that story today – to help strengthen that memory of Dale and to share that aspect of Dale with all of you. And I urge you to honor Dale the best way there is. Talk about him. Tell people about him. Let them know how he changed your life for the better. But more importantly, use the many lessons Dale taught everyone here. Be smart, be kind, be curious. And above all, share Dale. Share Dale with the world. Give him the strength that eluded him in his last months. Make Dale strong.