Vail Daily column: Goodbye to a true gentleman | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Goodbye to a true gentleman

Richard Carnes
My View

As I am sure most of you are aware, Happy Valley lost a true giant last week.

He wasn't in the ski industry, did not own hotels, restaurants or golf courses, and is not quoted in any of the popular tomes written over the years about Vail, yet the vast majority of those who have called this place home over at least a decade know the name: David LeVine.

Yes, most recognize it from David's plethora of letters-to-the-editor over the last twenty years or so and came to associate him with everything liberal, which means some were quick to stereotype and respond with vitriolic personal attacks in the Vail Daily.

And that's where they were so very wrong, and also where David helped me truly understand humility.

Although I had known his son, Rob, for years, I never actually met David until a Sonnenalp Golf Club Christmas party back in 2004. I was already in my fifth year of writing this weekly column, and David and I had poked fun at one another on more than one occasion on the Op-Ed page.

They were never nasty attacks though; more sarcastic than anything.

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So I was a little nervous to meet him at first, and even had Rob introduce us in case David tore into me over some silly political issue.

What followed was pure unadulterated joy, as he immediately put us both at ease with a sarcastic joke, introduced me to his lovely bride, Barbara, and we spent the rest of the evening cracking each other up, usually at the expense of those who naively tried to attack either of us in the paper.

And a wonderful friendship blossomed from there.

I would golf with him and Morrie Shepherd (Vail's first ski school director in '62) whenever possible, but they would usually play too early in the morning for me (7 a.m. tee times have never made sense to me, as I usually wait until 5 p.m. to have a beer).

I was proud to write a column about him in 2007 when we were opposite ages, David was 84 and I was 48, but I really cherished the round played Aug. 20, 2009, on the morning I turned 50. Walking the entire 18 holes with him and Morrie, I was exhausted at the end, but never let it show.

If I had, I would never have lived it down.

I should also mention they both whipped my backside on the scorecard as well.

David's game was played in the same manner with which he lived, with style, grace, integrity and a consistency that never seemed to waver.

So pardon me for repeating a line I wrote a few years ago, but a friend like him helped me learn over and over that life is meant to be savored, enjoyed, discussed, debated, dissected and, most of all, lived.

He once quoted Ben Hogan in an attempt to help me from hitting another one of my patented extreme slices off a tee box: "In golf as in life, it's the follow through that makes the difference."

As always, the man was correct.

And with golf being an acronym for "Growing Older, Living Fuller," nobody proved it more to me in Happy Valley than David LeVine.

I bow my head in your honor, sir, for a life well lived. And I don't slice so much anymore either, thanks.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at poor@vail.net.