Sunday, March 08, 2009

Saying Goodbye to David Westcott

Family Honors "Great Man"

David Westcott was memorialized on Tuesday. Much of the NEOCH Board and many past and present staff attended. The family did a great job of remembering David, and as his son-in-law, John Rowland, said David was a role model and a great man. Joe Cistone, the Executive Director of International Partners in Mission, spoke on behalf of all the non-profit organizations that David did work for in the community. Joe talked about David's unique relationship with various social justice organizations as Board member, volunteer, confidant, money manager, and bread maker. One group that did not get much attention, and I neglected in my original post and that was the Greater Cleveland Anti-Death Penalty group, which David was a founder and treasurer. I went to a prayer vigil at Old Stone Church before the first execution in Ohio in 23 years in 1999, and was surprised to see David as one of the leaders of the group. David was a humble man, but had a broad menu of social justice causes that he cared about.

Both of his grandchildren had prominent roles in service with Matthew doing a wonderful version of Amazing Grace on the guitar and Ian holding back tears to talk about the volleyball games against his grandfather well into David's 80s. The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard did a wonderful job hosting the service, and Rev. Lee Penvose talked in the sermon about David's role in the faith community. The church was full with family, friends, young people, and those working in the non-profit sector. I wish that there was some way to learn all these important details of a person's life before a memorial. It would be great to hear about a person serving in both World War II and the Korean conflict during happier times. I would have enjoyed hearing about how David interacted with IPM board and staff five years ago, but we just never get that opportunity.

What struck me the most was that David was a white guy from the South with average jobs of a printer and such, but in the last quarter century of his life dedicated his time to changing the lives of those suffering the negative side of capitalism. He was not the guy out front yelling and screaming about social change. David was the guy signing the checks, ordering the paper, and keeping the staff plugging away. He made sure that many organizations functioned properly, and let the directors do the advocacy and public speaking required to get their message out. David was a behind-the-scenes guy who made the non-profit trains run on time.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

No comments: