Monday, March 14, 2011

Dr. Preston Darby's Final Trip

Dr. Preston Darby passed away peacefully with family this morning, after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.  His body suffered the ravages of  ALS and eventually, the toll wore on his spirit.  To friends Pres remained a gracious, Southern gentlemen, with a penchant for storytelling. My last visit with Pres was alongside Dr. Ralph Chase.  The combination left me with a general ache in the midsection.  It came from the best medicine, laughter.

Over the years Pres regaled me with stories of rural South Carolina, his writing class with Elmer Kelton, antics at Community Health Club and doctoring in Afghanistan.  He spoke of his writing, often referring to his "God awful" short stories and first novel. Pres' books include Tears of the Oppressed, which chronicled his medical mission work in Afghanistan during Soviet Occupation.  The Reluctant Assassin showed John Wilkes Booth surviving his injuries and subsequent adventures as a world traveler.  After assassinating President Lincoln, Booth meets a host of notable characters in this lark of a story. 

Close friend and fellow author Ken Casper helped Pres revive his moribund first novel.  Together they worked, week in and week out.  The result is ManKillers.  It's a tale of love and loss in the post Civil War South.  It was published in December of 2010.

Notable character, loved by many?  That's Pres Darby.  San Angelo lost another treasure.  My thoughts and prayers are with Pam and the family.

I see Darby whole in heaven, catching up with loved ones.  After an appropriate period of reuniting, I bet Pres says "Pardon my intrusion, but where do you keep the pen and paper?"  After securing such, I see Pres running barefoot on the clouds.  It's a record time...

Update 3-15-11:  The Standard Times highlighted Dr. Darby's life in story and obituary.

Update 3-19-11:  Emmanuel Episcopal Church overflowed with love today.  Hundreds turned out to remember Pres Darby's unique character and vitality.  After hearing Pam and family members speak, I realize it'd be awhile before Pres asked God about the pen and paper.  He and Steven have much catching up to do.

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