08/19/2005: "Knowing John"
I first met John Dallas in a tiny room at the SJC Courthouse where a handful of folks had squeezed in to witness the commissioners sign something about jetskis. I knew of John from his spirited letters to the editor; shortly, it became clear he knew of me from mine.
Fate sat him next to me. We introduced ourselves.
"Uh oh," he exclaimed for all to hear, "I don't think I better sit next to you!" He hadn't agreed with one of my libertarian-sounding letters, I supposed.
I assured John that I was an Independent rather than a Republican. He accepted that with minimal skepticism, and we became fellow crusaders, then friends. From the outset, I was drawn by John's lack of guile and quirky charm. I relished his zestful humor and his appreciation of the absurd. His almost childlike glee for his activism was infectious, although there was nothing childlike about his deep commitment to the islands.
We fell into the rollicking habit of sharing draft letters to the "Flounder" and the "Urinal," so as to fine-tune how best to ridicule and outwit the enemy, the enemy being anyone who would exploit SJC. Our opinion pieces and our causes drove our days!
John had boundless enthusiasm for community issues, and he aired his opinions unabashedly to whomever would listen. He expressed himself in such unique and entertaining ways, one might pass him off simply as a local character. But once you knew John, you knew better. Oh, he was a character, alright -- an independent-thinking, courageous, delightful character of wide experience; a complex character of consequence and intuition who was adept at lampooning those who played fast and loose with the public trust. In this role, he was an important friend of the islands, a citizen superintendent who influenced county politics and heightened public awareness.
There will never be another John Dallas. He was the one and only. The islands were lucky to have him for as long as they did. Likewise his friends, who now have the solace of their memories of him. Fair winds, Sailor.
"The" Jim Skoog
Maggie Valley, NC