Memories of Doug Dill




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Memories of Dad—

My fondest memories of my dad are out in the forest and the mountains. In particular I loved going to Saddlebag Lake with Dad. I felt like Dad had discovered that area, and we were the only people on the planet who knew about that special place—despite the other people that occasionally popped up while we were there. Dad was always seeking out the wild places—the places others didn't know about—the places that made one feel like an explorer or adventurer.

It was in the 20 Lakes Basin behind Saddlebag that I first felt like an explorer, and where I first started to feel like I had found an activity in life that I excelled at—hiking. Dad showed me the beauty of the mountains there. He tried to show me how to fish—but I just wanted to hike and climb—I couldn't sit still. As we wound our way into the wilderness on one of our many trips there, dad would stop to fish every lake, but I wanted to follow the road, which became a trail, and then just an idea of a trail at the base of a ridge—and I wanted to see over that ridge.

Eventually I was old enough to go on by myself and climb that ridge while Dad fished, to peer over into Yosemite, and eventually to climb the peaks on that ridge—North Peak and Mt. Conness—which towered over the lakes we camped by.

Dad started going to Saddlebag Lake to photograph wildflowers, I believe. Dad was so meticulous about his craft—taking so much time to get things just right. I remember long hours with Jan in Dad's darkroom at CSUF making photograms while dad worked—entire days slipping by. I even remember playing around the building with Jan at Marshall University while dad worked on his projects. 20 Lakes Basin near Saddlebag

Speaking of projects—I remember dad working on so many projects—he was always trying some new craft—experimenting—I remember making sand candles with dad and then later "snow candles" a creation of Jan's imagination and Dad's determination to try something new, or dad experimenting with making giant mural size photographic prints on our patio. He made giant trays out of two by fours and plastic tarps to wash his prints in, and then mounted them to plywood with wallpaper glue.

I remember when he made a table out of a giant cable spool, covering it with some sort of epoxy to create a table top that was flat, see-through and durable. Except it wasn't any of those—it cracked and broke to pieces—he was so upset that it hadn't worked. But so many things he tried did work—he made so many beautiful things from wood. I remember him trying to teach me how to hold the wood still when pushing it through the saw—explaining how the blade would cause it to drift ever so slightly if one wasn't careful—I couldn't see or feel that drift. I was too impatient to bother with the precision that dad demanded in his woodworking. But years later, when I began to try my hand at it, I saw those slight imperfections crop up, and knew what was causing them and how to correct them. I began to remember what dad had taught—which I hadn't listened to then, but which somehow had sunk in anyway.

Dad was demanding and meticulous—of himself and others. But he taught me how to be demanding of myself and how to excel at what I tried.

But it was the outdoors that dad loved, and he shared that love with me—instilling in me a reverence for life, nature and beauty. I remember Dad saying that he felt the mountains were his church, and that he felt closer to God there than anywhere else. That is the gift that Dad gave to me.

Dad once wrote in an annual Christmas letter that Wayne spent as much of his free time as possible in "his beloved Sierra." I remember reading that sentence and feeling my heart leap— Dad had said they were my Sierra, as though I owned them, as though I was as much entitled to call them mine as John Muir or Galen Clark or any other great lover of wilderness. In this one sentence he gave me the Sierra Nevada—made them my personal possession, and I treasured this gift from Dad and held it in my heart, and still do.

These are the things I will remember Dad for. His love of nature, beauty, the pursuit of perfection, exploration and his spirit of adventure.

I love you Dad and will miss you.


Marc Elliot Hall Henderson, Nevada 

Page created: 18 July, 2019
Page modified: 14 January, 2023

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