This week, Scandia Valley in Poulsbo said goodbye to a man who has truly been a fixture in the valley for years. If you ever got a pumpkin from the Scandia Patch, chances are your life was touched in some way by Dwight Droz. Dwight was 96 when he passed and I can't help but reflect on the rich life he led.
I only have lived in the valley for a 7 years so I don't have a rich history with Dwight. We'd visit once in awhile and I loved how he always had a smile and an encouraging word. Dwight also was good at storytelling. He has quite a story of his own which makes him that much more interesting.
Dwight was born in Centralia, Kansas. His family to Declo, Idaho, where he learned to cope with a severe injury that developed into a bone infection (osteomyelitis). Forever after, Dwight would walk with a cane.
Quoting the local newspaper, Kitsap-Sun's story, "Droz graduated from the University of Idaho in 1933, where he met Pauline, whom he married in 1939. After hosting a radio show in Boise, the two moved when Pauline found a job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Droz worked there briefly until a layoff made his dream of becoming a farmer at Scandia a reality in the 1970s." For his complete obituary in the local newspaper, see http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jul/14/pumpkin-patch-farmer-writer-leaves-imprint-on/
He farmed until he couldn't farm anymore. The Scandia Patch had such a following that Dwight helped a neighbor, The Jensens, to get their start in farming. Jensens lived around the corner so the pumpkins still belonged in Scandia.
Those of you who think you're too old to 'mess with computers' can take a lesson from Dwight. He learned how to use a computer in his late 80s/early 90s which helped him with his other passion: writing. His books were always on display for purchase at the old Mitzel's restaurant in Poulsbo. See www.scandiapatchpress.com and you'll learn more about Scandia and Dwight Droz.
Busloads of school children and van loads of families have come to this area on their annual pumpkin trek. Larry Bazzell, a friend of our family and the Droz's, has been farming Dwight's fields the last few years and helping out with Dwight and Pauline. Larry loves working the land and is somewhat of a caretaker at heart. The last few years, he's had the Scandia Patch roadside stand open with the fruits of his labor and the guidance of Dwight. That says alot about both men.
This is what ties us to our communities and our neighborhoods. It's the interest others take in their homes and each other. People didn't always talking about "building community" they just did it by virtue of who they were and how they lived. A truly great community not only builds equity with granite countertops and imported tiles, we build great communities by building equity in people. It makes us special to each other. It makes us sad when our neighbor passes away or when they move away.
These are great reasons to knock on a few neighbors doors before you buy a home in a neighborhood. See what the people feel like, not just what the house looks like. Check that box on your Inspection Addendum that says "Neighborhood Review" (In Washington State). Take the time to meet the people whom you will have a chance to influence, and those who will also influence you and the the value of your property. You may find a home that has greater value than the appraiser can state just by knowing who your neighbors will be.
In our current economic times, it's important to think about what's important and invest your time and money there. The news is filled with stories of people taking "staycations", staying closer to home or staying home for vacation. Locally owned businesses that are always consistent in their delivery of service can be very comforting to us. Yesterday I heard how the Red Mill burger place in Seattle still has a line out the door for their hamburgers. These are times we look for the "Cheers" places in our life. We want to be where everybody knows our name, they give us a lift when we see them and they grieve with us when we are sad.
When I'm 96, God-willing, I hope I can look back and say I left a positive influence on the lives I touched. Not all of us will retire and become known for our Scandia Patch or our writing for that matter. But we can be remembered by those we live near and those we come in contact with over the years. We all have a chance to influence people and be of good will. Let's not waste those chances.
Just another example that proves www.lifeisgoodinkitsap.com.