Friday, May 10, 2013

A Rememberance

A Remembrance

David Dewey Detar, Jr. will be laid to rest on Saturday, May 11, 2013 after 84 years of an eventful life lived.

I knew his father about the same year I knew of him, the son. Doctor Detar was the Pottstown School District doctor who examined any student wishing, like me, to participate in school sponsored sports. I was entering seventh grade and football was my longing. Doc gave me the usual physical which I passed.

Doc was someone special : he wrestled at Penn State in the 1920's at 135 pounds, was Intercollegiate and NCAA champ, and even went on to coach the Penn State squad in 1922-24. He scared Dad and me on Thanksgiving morning 1946. The morning drive to Downingtown took us on Rt. 113 south off of Rt. 100 which wound through the countryside finally going down a fairly steep grade with a large sweeping curve before the road leveled out in the valley. Traffic south was heavy on this two lane road and Dad was in line going slowly with the other cars when all of a sudden he calls out, "My God ! Who's this nut passing us ? He's going to get us all killed ! " You guessed it ! It was Doctor Detar in his big black sedan barreling to get to the game. He made it but we lost anyway.

So memorable in Pottstown school's history was the year 1946 ; the stadium was packed on game days with everyone wishing to see our Trojans go undefeated in football. The backfield tandem of Dave Detar and Deacon Reinhart captured everyone's imagination as the best in our school's history. I remember the WW2 jeep decked out in school colors which brought into the stadium a costumed Trojan accompanied by many wholesome cheerleaders. The spectators loved it. Pottstown went on to win that day but Downingtown was waiting in the wings for the inevitable Thanksgiving Day Game. Undefeated did not happen that year when the turkey day game was over.

Young Dave went on to West Point for four years, Deacon began a painting business which is continued today by his sons long after his death. I continued my education in Pottstown schools and played football six years there. A few times during these six years Doc Detar got me and a couple other players to work for him bringing in baled hay at the farm off Route 23 and later at a farm off Route 73 near Gilbertsville. In 1960 I went to work at Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and guess who was their company doctor, yes, it was Doc Detar.

Also working at Firestone was Dave Detar where we talked often as both of us were on salary and working in some official capacity. I was hired as a Statistical Quality Control Technician; Dave was a department manager over plant cleanliness maintenance and the grounds surrounding the complex. Around the mid 60's I was elevated to Dave's position and he was asked to develop a new position, that of a quality recognition manager who was to bring a sense of competition into the plant and create an awards program that honored the individual laborer. We shared an office on the lower level near the cafeteria so we saw each other on a daily basis for a few years until I left the firm in early 1969.

Over the intervening years we saw each other occasionally generally at public affairs since I was in business which took up most of my free time. For some time we lived within three blocks of another, and then for a time only one block until Dave and his wife Kitty moved out to the senior living complex on Manatawny St. I watched one of his girls on PCTV televise the junior swimming meets and a few times I went to his son, also a doctor as his grandfather was, for medical treatment of a minor problem. Dave's son, Scott, is a well respected Certified Public Accountant who heads up a regional firm.

Early on during my football career Pottstown teams went to football camp. One camp I remember vividly was when Dave Detar, while still at West Point, visited a practice session. By then at the Point he was playing on the line at guard and our coach, Herbert Meyers, asked Dave to show our linemen some college tactics.
When my turn came, Dave took an offensive line stance and I positioned myself as a defensive lineman.
At the snap count Dave fired off from his stance and with his forearm crushed my stomach in driving me backward and the shiver took my breath away That was a real learning day for me never to be forgotten.

To bring this remembrance to an end, follow this story line which tells of David Dewey's football career. Out of high school Dave's physical running ability was, by far, one of the best in the country. Most said, If he could stay healthy, no damage to his wheels (his legs), the country would forget about Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard the cream of West Point football. Detar , many believed, would reset the football records of past recipients of glory.

Football may vault a person into prominence but, far too often, when a person's limbs are in jeopardy, damage to those limbs can alter a career and nag that person for a lifetime. David Dewey Detar was caught up in a circumstance which damaged his legs beyond his bodily repair mechanism could correct. All sports emanates up from the legs, to excel, a player must have sound legs. What could have been, wasn't ; what was, nagged him into his grave. May he rest in peace !

Our Condolences:
Respectfully, Ronald & Connie Downie

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