Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Requiem for a Friend

A Friend is Gone

I got an e-mail from Doug Barbier last night telling me that Dave Menard had died. A friend of many years was gone. The sense of loss was, and still is, immeasurable.

Dave was one of the earliest contributors to Replica in Scale, way back in 1972 or 73. Like so many other of my friends he was selfless, never failing to provide an image, information, or a correction. He, as well as all of the other aviation photographers who took our fledgling project under their wings, helped to nurture our publication and make it into what it ultimately became. He was a contributor, a critic, and a mentor. He was a class act. He was a friend.

We shared a small portion of our lives, Dave and I, although I didn't know it at the time. He was assigned to Misawa AB in Japan when my family arrived there in the early 60s, and we both shared a fondness for the place. Later, after Jim and I had launched the print version of Replica, Dave provided us with photographs of the airplanes that I'd never taken the time to shoot while I was there. They're a treasured reminder of my days in Japan, and a constant reminder of Dave.

Dave Menard's collection of American military aviation photography is arguably one of the best to be found anywhere. Like so many of the greats in the field, he photographed and he collected and, also like so many others, he shared. It's hard to find an aviation publication on the Silver Air Force, be it book or periodical, that doesn't have an image from Dave's collection in it. He assisted those who asked for it, and he did it with no motive other than a desire to help.

There are so many things I could say about Dave, but it's almost impossible to know where to begin. He could come across as gruff, and he was a straight shooter; yes meant yes and no meant no in his world, but he was always there to help. He helped the historical aviation community, and he helped his friends. He helped me. I miss him already.

That said, I have a philosophy I'd like to share with you regarding Dave's passing. Another aviation friend of mine opined earlier today, after hearing of Dave's death, that one of the great ones was gone. To that I have to disagree.

Dave's still here, still with us, in every photograph he ever took or collected. I'll think of him every time I see one of those photos, or pass through my library and see one of his books on the shelf. I'll smile when I think of him and remember his unselfish sharing with all who asked for his help. Does his death hurt? You bet it does. He was a valued friend and I'll miss him but, like I said, he's still here with us. He always will be.

Thanks, Dave, for everything you did to make aviation photography the special thing it's been to my life, and to the lives of so many others. 

Let's raise a glass.

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