How do you thank someone . . .

On August 28th 2012, Dave Fredrickson died. This won’t mean much to many of you, but for us here at Tom Origer & Associates, it was a major loss. His wife, Vera-Mae, died about a year ago, and I think he was ready to join her. She was a formidable woman, and the two of them were a wonderful balance of personality and presence.

Dave was our teacher and mentor in archaeology; for some of us starting in the ’70s, for others the ’80s, ’90s and in to the new millennium. I took my first undergraduate field methods class from Dave, and my first graduate seminar, as well. He was a touchstone of stability and science when we got off on wild rabbit trails. And no matter how young or old, he treated each of us as colleagues worthy of his respect.

I have been trying to write this since he passed, and I have been stumped. The things that made Dave special to me as an individual, I am not inclined to share in the blogosphere; everything else is almost generic ‘good person’ wording that one expects in referring to the dead. So I am struggling to walk a line.

Perhaps one of his most amazing characteristics in a world of off-hand talk, is that I never in 30 years heard Dave say anything bad about another person. He didn’t like everyone; but the worst thing I ever heard him say was that he was grateful to Martin Baumhoff for accepting him at UC Davis, because there was someone at Berkeley that Dave could not comfortably do his graduate work with. Not exactly brutal condemnation.

We knew Dave best as an archaeologist, but he was an almost infinitely complex person. He was an accomplish folklorist and musician with an extensive collection of traditional song lyrics acquired from years of talking to people about old variants of different tunes. If you ever wondered who watered the plants in the median on the freeway, Dave did that (for a while). He was an avid recycler, a quilter, artists’ model, cab driver, and more avocations that we are just now learning of as those who love him share their memories.



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