steve’s funny column
Remembering Dan Logan
By STEVE LANG
“Do not stand at my grave and weep/I am not there; I do not sleep.” – Mary Elizabeth Frye
“Bad jokes, Man, I love ‘em/Bad jokes, can’t get enough of ‘em,” – sung by Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly in “A Prairie Home Companion”
My longtime friend, Dr. Dan Logan, possessed a multitude of gifts that brought hope, confidence, inspiration and joy to countless individuals during his 80 years and change.
During lengthy careers as a psychologist and as a professor of counseling, he taught, mentored, ministered, mended broken spirits, restored confidence and inspired folks to push the envelope of their abilities to achieve their individual success.
With me, Dan did the best he could, always with kindness, laughter and patience, and without throwing his hands in the air. However, we fit smoothly as friends. More on that later.
Dan died March 13, less than two weeks after suffering a massive stroke in his home; coincidentally, the same home he lived in through graduation from Alpine High School, before taking a 40-year hiatus.
He briefly attended Sul Ross State University, transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, and after graduation, earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Arizona State University. Over the next 35 years, he taught at the University of Texas Medical School, worked at Dallas area hospitals as a clinical psychologist, founded and directed two Christian counseling centers, then moved back to Alpine and Sul Ross in 1998.
His Sul Ross students referred to him as a captain of a ship, and at his memorial service, nautical items were displayed and some of those ships were mentioned — fellowship, relationship and leadership among them. I have no doubt Dan would have been equally at ease at the helm of a three-master in deep water, or piloting a prairie schooner across West Texas.
Dan and I arrived in Alpine and at Sul Ross about the same time; he was returning home and I was finding a new one. Our friendship grew over the years, but truly blossomed about four and a half years ago when I was in need of lodging and he and his darling wife Carlon provided it.
For years, the Logans had rented out an apartment in the front of their house to traveling graduate students attending weekend classes, often his. Dan suffered a debilitating stroke, inevitably forcing his retirement from Sul Ross in 2011. Through his faith, determination and intensive rehabilitative therapy, he recovered nearly all movement and cognitive resources.
Although he no longer taught or practiced professionally, he remained a source of counsel and encouragement to friends, former students and just plain folks.
Folks like me, and in my case, I filled a rental vacancy and whether needed or not, filled any dead air with nonsense.
Although this might seem like an uneven trade, I furnished a truckload of jokes – and more than a few observations that produced both grins and grimaces — and Dan offered some in return. Despite his multitude of talents, which included a keen sense of humor, joke telling was not his forte, but he always appreciated a good, and sometimes not so good, story.
I know little Spanish, but I love the expression, “somos pocos, pero locos.” In West Texas, we are few, but (like me) crazy, and Dan’s skill set adequately accommodated me.
In appreciation, I offered stories illustrating my Scandinavian background, occasionally songs of the same genre, as well as jokes that catered to his profession.
As the Big Bend economy often decrees, it is necessary to diversify. I told Dan about the planned opening of a therapy clinic and upholstery shop with the motto, “Neither you nor your couch will leave until you’re fully recovered.”
In deference to my home state in winter, I asked, “What does the average introvert weigh?”
Not enough to break the ice, it seemed, but jokes, good or bad, were usually interspersed in our conversations, even serious ones.
We shared a few of those, particularly upon the deaths of my wife, my mother and my father-in-law. Now, Dan has departed, and I miss him as well. I have reached the age where the idea of being 10 feet tall and bulletproof has faded into complete mythology. Reality reminds me to walk through gates, not hurdle fences and to step, not hop, over even ankle-height barriers.
I remain grateful that no needed-to-be-said words remain. Our friendship transitioned into family, and our traditional parting included, “God bless you, my brother, I love you.”
In loving memory of Dan, I shall re-state the story of a man visiting his friend who worked as a psychiatrist at a mental health facility. The psychiatrist invited his pal to stay for lunch in the cafeteria. The pair went through the food line with the patients, and sat among them at the tables.
Soon after sitting down, a voice thundered, “fifty-six!” and the entire room erupted in laughter.
“Thirty-eight!” another voice yelled, again accompanied by giggles, guffaws and snorts.
“What’s going on?” the visitor asked.
“Oh, everybody in here knows all the jokes by heart, so they just tell them by number,” the psychiatrist said.
“Twenty-six!” a voice sounded, only to be answered with a chorus of groans.
“Now what?” the guest asked.
“Oh, that’s my colleague,” his friend replied. “A wonderful doctor, but he always screws up the punch line.”
Steve Lang tells Dan Logan “so long,” but not “good bye.” Steve is the Sul Ross State Univesity news and publications director in Alpine.
Story filed under: Big Bend Blog