for David Clark McCoy (1949-2007) as written and delivered by his son Kent at his memorial service.
"To me, there are three facets of my father that, taken together define my father pretty thoroughly. First and foremost, David Clark McCoy was, of course a member of his family; a son, brother, husband and father. Second, he was the steward of this piece of land, in part as thanks to the force of family history, but primarily by his own choice. Lastly he was a member of a number of communities from the obvious ones defined by geography, politics and family ties here in Fredericktown and Knox County to the organic, sustainable and other agricultural communities, along with theater, aviation, volunteer services etc... in the terms he used in the book he was writing, he was a neighbor to many people. Unfortunately, men in general and those of us in this family in particular, have a tendency to think that we can define ourselves as distinct individuals ignoring all ties and standing alone, and although he could turn powerfully inward, still it is his relationships with people and this place that define the ragged edges of the hole his absence leaves
The son of stalwart evangelical parents, he made them proud as he went out into the world to serve as both a leader and a servant and then taught them a few lessons about that world and its people when he came home. Just a few years ago when he lost his parents, he was staggered to discover that he and not his father was now 'Mr McCoy.' There is never any question that he was indeed a McCoy, but in other ways he also carried a part of the legacy of the Clark and Knapp families. As he raised his family, I cannot say say with flowery accolades that he was the perfect parent, but he provided many things that I am grateful for. Growing up on a farm is, to put it mildly, inconvenient at times when as a kid you want to be doing anything but chasing down escaped cattle at 3AM or bringing them in to be milked in the rain for the thousandth time, but who gets trees to climb, a creek to float boats down, and rope swings over fresh hay anymore? Besides having the world of the farm to explore and conquer, he encouraged us to learn about the larger world we lived in and to pursue any part of it we chose. All in all, the most important thing he gave us was his example. He did not always succeed, but he made a sincere effort to live up to the things he believed in, and that is more than many people can say.
When he found out early in life that neither military nor business life agreed with him and he decided to come home and take over operation of the family farm, he and my mother made a decision to live simply. It wasn't an easy choice, from the very beginning the first fruit he would reap was hard, oft un-rewarded labor. Nonetheless, he revived and improved this farm on little money, a great deal of sweat and equipment that most would consider not simply inadequate, but useless. Farming methods, fortunes and especially the weather all changed continuously and he certainly did not grow rich, but to the disbelief of many he was able to not only stay afloat, but to purchase the land from his father and even to twice indulge his love of flying and purchase a small plane. The second time he was able to buy a plane he also fulfilled a longtime dream as it flew in and out of this strip. However, no matter what else he did, or the fact that his work with Hospice caused him to comment that he given life to do over he might have chosen to be a doctor, he was tied to the cycle of the weather, seasons and vagaries of this soggy little Ohio valley, its crops and its critters, in such a way that the man and the farm were in many ways hard to distinguish from one another.
As most of you know firsthand, my father was an outgoing person. More than once we tried unsuccessfully to identify who it was that he was spending an entire evening on the phone with, sure from the variety of the topics and the familiarity that it must be a good friend, only to learn that the conversation had begun as a wrong number. Of course misplaced phone calls and talking to the cows as he fed them did not make for much of a social life. Over time he found a number of ways to both find respite from the farm momentarily and to nurture other interests, particularly singing, flying and serving people. He made many friends on stage with first the local barbershop chorus and then with community theater groups as well as in the air and talking shop on the ground with other private pilots. Much as he enjoyed both singing and flying, he considered service to others to be the part of his life that gave it meaning. He did manage to put both of these hobbies to use in ways that brought light to other people's lives, but he also served more directly, first through Habitat for Humanity, and then as he realized that building houses was too similar to his day to day work to be enjoyable, he followed my mother's example and volunteered with Hospice. Serving with Hospice was a revelation for Dad as he discovered a way that his willingness to talk to anyone about anything could make a tremendous impact on those who were trying to find a way to approach the end of their lives with their eyes wide open.
What I fail to capture, in trying to make everything fit neatly in three categories is the reason he made such an impact in each part of his life; that which drove him to take on positions of leadership as a young man and later to tackle the projects he took on with varying degrees of success, from selling water by the honor system, drying watercress from the creek to try to market nationwide, designing and building several unique pieces of machinery comprising a new tillage system, smaller creations to solve practical problems or for our entertainment, and even one finished and one un-finished book, all in the end with the ever-so-humble goal of changing the world.
A number of people have told me that he is 'still here.' I know they mean well, but I don't believe that in a literal sense. However, my father made a deep impression on this family, this farm and the various communities that he was a part of and what we will continue to encounter for the rest of our lives are the are the things and people that he affected. The abundant response this evening and over the past week and a half are the beginning of that and I thank all of you who have provided food, run errands, helped in many other ways, or even had your gracious offers turned down because there have been more willing hands than there has been work to be done. If he could make one last request of you, it would be the one he was writing into every chapter if not every paragraph of his book, that if you have learned anything about how to love the people around you by his flawed example, whether it be how to be neighbor or, since, as he admits he didn't always live up to his own ideals, what mistakes to avoid, that you take that and run with it."