Claremore Daily Progress

December 16, 2010

‘Dasvidanya’ Dave

Bill and Linda Biard
Hammet House owners

CLAREMORE — I have been very blessed over the last 20 years. Linda and I have a wonderful family, a thriving business and we live in Claremore, a wonderful small town that has been so good to us. In no small part, our success has been attributed to many of the more than 800 employees that we have had at the Hammett House. They have been our “extended family” for these incredible years.

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, we lost one of our most special ‘family members’. I’d like to tell you a bit more about Dave Dickison.

I had interviewed Dave several times in my previous position at another restaurant. Each time that he felt mistreated at his current job, he would walk he length of the boulevard to apply for a job. Each time I would say thanks and each time I would go away thinking that this guy just wasn’t a fit for my crew!

In the fall of 1991, Jim Hammett and I were starting to put together our opening crew of employee’s right before we re-opened The Hammett House. Dave once again walked down Will Rogers Boulevard and applied for a job. This time was different and we decided to take a chance on hiring him! A good daytime dishwasher is probably the hardest position to staff in any restaurant. Most places go through many applicants just to find one that will do a great job. I would say that we got pretty lucky!

For 19 1/2 years, Dave was the only daytime “utility man” on my staff. He turned out to be the very “heart and soul” of the restaurant. He was reliable and dependable to a fault. He was determined to have his daily responsibilities completed before we opened each day. In fact he did his job and half of everyone else’s. In his words, he would “finesse” the dining room and make things perfect for the customers. For all of those years, Dave would keep things in great shape. He did so many things that he didn’t get credit for but now that he’s gone I keep finding things that I wish were done ‘Dave’s way’! For many of the employees, as well as Linda and I, each birthday would come with a gift and card from Dave. It started out as a music cassette that he thought would be appropriate for each one of us. Then it grew to VCR tapes of movies and finally music or video CD’s of classic or epic movies that he thought that we would enjoy.

I have a collection at home of Dave’s generosity that would rival some of the finest collections! On a meager salary, he thought of all of us as his family and he showed us all how to give. Dave for many years has sent money to “Save the Children” to help a very special little girl in Central America.

I need to tell you more about Dave. I knew almost from the beginning the he was a Vietnam vet. I knew that he had a remarkable knowledge of anything military or incredible details of The Mafia. From ancient wars to modern battles Dave knew history in detail. He could quote Julius Caesar or Sun Tzu. He knew the hierarchy of ‘The Mob’ and all of the prominent gangsters of the old days! I was continually amazed at his grasp of all of this, after all, I liked some of the same stuff - I just wasn’t as good at recalling it all as he was!

In private, I might say that Dave was different because he was affected by ‘agent orange’ in ‘Nam. That was sort of funny because I thought that his tour of duty there was mainly clerical in nature. I recently found out that I was so wrong. Dave was a ‘radioman’, stationed 30 miles south of DMZ in the 187th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. He literally saw his buddies die next to him. As we know now, when guys came home from ‘Nam’ many were different than when they left. Dave’s sister Julie confirmed that he came back and for whatever reason was changed forever.

Today, it may be called PTSD or some fancy name, wars just change people. He may have been different or odd. He may have been the most OCD person that I have ever known. Whatever, he was the kindest, most loving man that I have ever had the privilege of working with. He, like I said earlier, was the ‘Heart and Soul’ of our restaurant. He was an armed forces veteran; he was a fantastic employee who always gave his best, he was a friend.

Dave passed away last Saturday at the VA Hospital in Clinton, Oklahoma. Yes, it really was a possibility that the ‘agent orange’ in use at the time in Vietnam was part of the cause of his congestive heart failure and pulmonary complications. Life has a way of making us all a little bit different, doesn’t it? Dave’s life and his love of all of us here at the restaurant have certainly changed us. We have been blessed by his presence. We’ll miss Mazzio’s Pizza on Tuesdays and candy bars on Fridays! We will miss Dave.

To Dave as he always said on his way home, “Dasvidanya” So long, ‘til we meet again!

With love and respect,

Bill and Linda Biard, owners

Hammett House Restaurant