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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

Dave makes his move during a track meet

Mrs. Johnson:

I am so grateful to have been able to talk to you today.  Again, I offer my most sincere condolences in not only for your loss of David, but also your son Glenn and your husband.  Being a father, I cannot even imagine the loss of your two boys - from what I read about David's birth, you were truly blessed to have him, and I do believe the world has become a better place with his presence.  Even though it was only last night that I learned of his passing, I feel a loss that will be impossible to replace.  David was a good friend, and I only wish that I knew him even more than I did.

As I mentioned, I talked to Wanda last night about David's passing, and she too offers her condolences.  Wanda and Mark Howlett, David, and I were all competitors, but friends, during our time in Germany.  David and I did many workouts together - through those beautiful forests that surrounded the kaserne where we were stationed in Schwetzingen, Germany, and also on the track.  David was a competitor, both in training and during actual races.  In the shorter runs, such as the mile and 2-mile, David constantly beat me because he was just plain faster than I was.  I was, and am, still more of a longer distance runner than a miler.  David and I did some really intense workouts on the track to work on our speed, and to this day, when I tell people about our workouts, they are amazed that we pushed ourselves the way we did.  I truly never in my post-high school running career had a workout partner like David - he was someone truly special.  The only thing I can say is that we pushed each other in order to compete at even higher levels.

One day, David and I went for a run while it was snowing outside.  We had to cross a pedestrian bridge that went over some railroad tracks, and it was pretty slippery.  We took it easy and just walked across the bridge to be safe.  I remember David looked at me and started laughing.  The snow had frozen onto my mustache, eyelashes, and eyebrows, and turned them completely white.  He said I looked like an old man.  What he failed to realize was that the snow had the same effect on him, minus the mustache.  He looked like he had aged at least 30 years, and we both stood out there in the snow laughing at each other.

Another thing I enjoyed doing to Dave was to try to psyche him out before a race.  Like I mentioned before, he was very intense when it came to his running, and especially during competition.  Mark, Wanda, David, and I had qualified for the US Army Europe (USAREUR) cross-country championships which were taking place in Chiemsee, Germany, located in the southern section of the country.  The Army housed us in a beautiful hotel, which had a miniature golf course in front.  A couple of hours before the race, the four of us decided to play some miniature golf to kill some time.  So, there we were, just putting around the golf course, and being goofy.  At one point, instead of trying to putt the ball into the hole, I took a hard swing at the ball like I was going to drive it down a fairway at a regular golf course.  The ball shot away and hit David on the back of his leg, right above the top of his shoe, onto his Achilles tendon.  As you can imagine, it hurt alot, and this was just a couple of hours before a major race.  It was an accident, and I felt terrible about it.  Luckily, no damage was done to David's leg - it just hurt when it happened.  But, at the starting line of the race, while we were waiting to go, I leaned over to David and reminded him how much that had to hurt and it just might come back to haunt him during the race.  I remember he gave me a look that would freeze water, and said something about it wouldn't bother him.  It was just another opportunity to try to psyche-out David before a race.

The three of us called David "YJ".  It stood for "Young Junior" because when David first came to Germany, he was only 18 years old, while the rest of us were "old" folks of 22 or 23 years old.  He took alot of kidding from us because of his youthfulness, but he also dished it out as well.  David was always a good person to be around because of his fresh outlook on life, and his ability to take a joke and to give them back to us.

As I type this to you, I can remember David's laugh and his smile.  I can see him pushing himself to run harder and faster, and also challenging the rest of us try and keep up with him.  Friends like David are a rare find during our lifetimes, and I only wish there could have been more times together with him.  He left Germany before I did, and when he was gone, there was a huge void to be filled, and as I can recall, that void wasn't filled.  He was my buddy, my workout partner, and practically a younger brother to me during those days.  I know David is in a better place now, but it surely hurts knowing that he is gone from our place.

God bless you and your family.

Lee Fredrickson
Douglas, AZ

 

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