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We will always remember your struggle for justice for those most powerless in the mental health system, David!

Memorial created 08-1-2008 by
David Oaks
David Romprey
August 18 1965 - July 30 2008

Memories of Dave

by Grace

My best memories of Dave are from around the time of his attempt to get the campus-wide smoking ban at OSH lifted.

Dave never lost touch with what it was like to be put in a place like OSH. So when the smoking ban was announced, he very quickly understood how harsh it was to add forced instant smoking withdrawal to the very great stress of being admitted to such a facility and how intense the suffering from the combination might be.  He immediately began looking for ways to try to change the minds of the decision-makers at OSH and put together a series of well-attended meetings between the head of OSH, various staffers, and a number of us who had been in state hospitals.

The meetings were held in a basement room of the OSH administration building and attended by estimable state hospital alums including Jody Harmon, Ken Stockamp, and Kevin Fitts.  Although we did our best to impress on the OSH staffers how unkind it was to add unnecessary stress to the OSH inpatient experience, they of course did not yield.

After the last meeting, Dave and I took a walk around the OSH grounds, talking about the feelings being back there brought up.  The most vivid memory is standing outside the ward where the younger children were kept, listening to the sounds of them through the windows, and just weeping unabashedly together at the sadness of the whole situation.

Dave never seemed ashamed of displays of emotion, was never afraid of going to those difficult emotional places that most others shy from.  Although I certainly often disagreed with him about the direction survivors should take, that openness to feeling never ceased to earn my respect.

A more cheery memory

Dave gave me a ride home one night after meeting for dinner.  And when we arrived there I realized that I'd locked myself out of my house.  Ever heroic, he declared, "No problem!  I'll just shimmy up a back porch post, climb onto the roof, and go in through the back upstairs window."  Although I thought it rather too dangerous, he did it anyhow.  One snag:  I'd forgotten that I was dog sitting a friend's pit bull who was in the house until, walking around to the front door, I heard Dave yell from outside the back bedroom window, "Grace!!!  You didn't mention THE PIT BULL!!!"  But, intrepid, he went in anyhow, and the legendary Romprey charm held:  I'll never forget the sight of Dave and the delighted dog frolicking happily together through my living room on the way to unlock the front door.


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