Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 246: Shorty

I did my normal turning tonight but that's not going to be tonight's subject because that's not important right now.  Today the world lost a really great guy and a great turner.  Clarence 'Shorty' Hart passed away this evening after a bout with cancer.  I didn't know Shorty for very long or all that well but you didn't need know him all that well to  be impacted by his passing.

I've known Shorty via the Arizona Woodturners for about 5 years and got to know him on a more personal level when I purchased my hollowing system from him about 3 years ago.  In January 2009 I was tasked with writing a bio about Shorty for the 2009 Desert Woodturning Roundup.  The organizing committee had secretly decided to honor Shorty for his contributions to the local woodturning community and I talked to several other members of the club asking them for their memories of him.  I ended up being short on details and decided to go straight to Shorty to fill in the blanks.  I did so under the guise that a "friend" was asking about Shorty's history in the Navy and his early life.  Shorty had heard rumors that we were planning to honor him and saw right through my story but was more than willing to play along.  Shortly before the big event we received word that Shorty wasn't planning to attend the banquet that was being prepared (partially) in his honor.  A few quick phone calls put things in order and assured that Shorty would be present for the banquet.  In the end I'm actually glad that Shorty knew what we were planning.  I honestly think that had we sprung the surprise on him without him having any idea he might have had a heart attack right then and there.

I also asked club member Paul Porter to say a few words about Shorty and the special bond that they share.  What I didn't realize until the morning of the event is that Paul had lost his own father just 1 month prior and that truly showed during his short speech.  Paul was near tears throughout, something out of character for Paul but something completely understandable given the circumstances.

Overwhelmed by emotion Shorty finally took the stage to say a few words of thanks.  What I remember most about his speech was the emotion he showed as he thanked the committee and the crowd in the banquet hall and how he wished that his wife could have been there.  Marge had passed away 4 months prior to the event after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.  The love that they shared was clear to everyone there that evening and is something that I will always remember.  I hope that they are together again tonight.

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