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67Mantle

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03/07/17 01:19 PM

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KEN DUNNING


Well guys I'm sorry for being silent for so long, and it's way WAY past time for me to weigh in on Ken's passing, a fact I apologize for to each and every member. All you regular posters in the Village probably know Ken and I had become very close friends over the seven years we knew each other, and, yes, I am personally at a loss to describe the hole left in the world, the site's world as well as my own, by his very untimely and very sad death of my close friend, my brother.  It's been a tough time. 


I've tried to write a number of pieces about our friend a.k.a. “rezzdogg,” but they've all come up far short of what I intended to say about this remarkable man, and none of them made it past the delete button. It all sounded so trite, stating the obvious without providing the connection I was hoping for. It's been very hard for me to get to the heart of just what kind of man we have lost, but it's also unfair to my friends for me to not weigh in. 


I'm sorry for the delay, and I think I've found the avenue I was hoping for; it was both obvious and compelling once it finally occurred to me to write what I hope my dear friend would have found appropriate. Ken was not into self-promotion, and any testament casually written without much forethought would end up probably appearing this way. 


So, I thought, why not just tell the guys about my buddy? Why not share with them a little about the man without any stratomatic connection at all? Why not, indeed? And that's what I'm going to try to do - share some things you guys might not know.


Ken Dunning was, what I would term, a great man – while at the same time he was probably the most unassuming man I've ever met. He touched countless people in his life, the great majority of which had zero knowledge of our little strat community. A child of two differing cultures, white and native, rezz embraced his native side, and, while a young man, set out to learn how to help his people.


rezz was an extremely intelligent man, and he was a Dartmouth graduate, holding a B.S. In Sociology – no mean feat there! Instead of taking this degree and sitting on it or using it as a means to propel his career for self-centered reasons, Ken kept to his life-purpose, his calling, and became a force in NY State for improving the lives of native peoples in his community, and indeed across the state. He worked in areas so desperately needing help in any community, and the list of programs he wrote grants for is truly impressive. They include Drug Abuse Awareness and treatment, Alcohol Awareness and treatment, AID and HIV Awareness and treatment, Child Abuse Awareness, youth groups, and probably many more he never shared with me. Working tirelessly in a culture he once described to me as “poetically dysfunctional” Ken was a steady and focused advocate for his people, faithful to his chosen cause. As things took a turn for the worse he was finally appointed to run the agency he worked for, but it was too late to save it. When the agency he worked for finally closed due to its historically poor management Ken kept striving to help the native people of his nation by taking on grant writing duties for others and weighing other offers in his field, and providing advice as a consultant. He was ready to start a new job, one that excited him with its potential, but never got the opportunity due to his untimely death. The respect he held from others in his field in New York State was tremendous, and richly deserved, and his cousin Marla told me there were a number of people at his wake who spoke of him with a very high regard, something I believe. It's easy to claim to hold principles, but it's not very easy, or practical, to live by them with such devotion. The ability to do so is the mark of true integrity, and Ken's measured and comfortable embrace of integrity was one of his defining features.


As a son he was totally devoted to caring and supporting his mother in her failing years. I'm not going to get into specifics here, but he was the epitome of the good son. Let's leave it at that. Really, nothing needs to be added, in any event, as the term is self-defining, and we would expect nothing less from rezz.


Ken was a very humble man in a spiritual context, and he choose to live according to the customs of his culture while at the same time seeking a better understanding of the spiritual world and our place in the universe. We spoke more and more about this mutually shared subject as time passed, and I found Ken's razor-sharp insights and ability to get to the heart of any deep spiritual topic truly astonishing. He had a knack for targeting the essence of faith in his observations, and was a deep metaphysical thinker who wrestled with the toughest concepts in his typically discerning manner, and was given to great bursts of spiritual clarity. Again, the specifics of his faith were his own, but understanding the purpose in life from the “Creator” was always a driving force in his loving and compassionate way of living. His council when hearing of my present medical condition was very uplifting, and it buoyed my determination to call on all my spiritual resources in fighting my own current health battle.  He traveled to my home in early November and took Jane and I out to dinner, his treat.  Afterwards we returned to my house where Ken gave my wife and I each a gift, a real honest to goodness native medicine bag.  He explained that any magical properties contained in it were tied into my acceptance of this totem as symbolic of the good that one may draw from the universe, and so from the Creator.  I will treasure this gift for the remainder of my life. 


I have seldom met a gentler or kinder man, or one who took great joy from the casual and elegant poetry of life. Ken absolutely delighted in the human condition, and as softballcoach, a.k.a. “Coach,” a.k.a. Rich will testify, rezzdogg's love of life blossomed and was on full display at Cooperstown every year under the canopy in the press box at Doubleday Field. Here he enjoyed being the observer of games as much as the participant in them, and when he got his chance to manage his teams in our round robin format his delight in emulating Earl Weaver by considering all possibilities before making a move showed a tremendous understanding of the give and take of playing the percentages correctly, something he strove for in every game of strat he played. Quiet by nature, gaming gave him the platform for showing his witty side, and he and coach battling it out with trash talking worthy of the HOF just up the street was a pure delight to behold, and I know Ken cherished this wonderful give-and-take, and greatly anticipated it every year.  His unannounced gifts to my wife as the years passed were thoughtful and loving, and his way of showing his appreciation to her for her patience to me in my role as a site official, and demonstrate his generosity combined with his character.  Jane thought the world of Ken, and enjoyed getting to know him the two times he managed to make it up here.


The Village...my final topic. This obscure and insignificant blog site, the one we love so, was created by rezz with one specific goal in mind, to create a venue where the free expression of opinions, and the sharing of the events in our wonderful replays could happen without cruelty, mocking, bullying, and all the other needless blights on blog sites, not only in the gaming community, but on the internet in general. Ken's vision was of a place where honesty, integrity, and gentlemanly behavior were the calling card. As he taught me the nuances of being a moderator here I was, once again, astonished at his ability to “read between the lines,” and the tactful methods he employed to bring newcomers into this mind set of behaving properly because it's the right thing to do. Respect was very important to Ken, and he yearned for HIS site to be a place where respect was at the forefront of all debate. That the membership here embraced this vision so willingly was a great source of pride to old rezz. As things got worse at work we saw our rezz less and less as time passed, but his heart was always here. Ken's regret at not having the time to post comments, or even play a game at home bothered him, I know, but the site cruising along peacefully, with members allowed to take it or leave it on their own levels – in other words “living up to its original and primary purpose,” was a great comfort to him. He loved you guys with all his heart. I know this for a fact.


The passing of this beautiful human being, one of the best men I have ever been blessed to know, leaves a void in all our lives – that's beyond any doubt. I feel the best way to honor Ken is to keep the site alive, in his memory, living up to his ideals. I ask all members to join me in this quest, and I'll be doing some back and forth with Leflora over the ensuing months to do just that, and I'll be sending PMs out keeping everyone up to date. 


We owe it to rezz to give it our best effort.


Farewell, my brother.  Keep the faith.

"You're either on the bus or off the bus," Ken Kesey

Last Edited By: 67Mantle 03/07/17 04:34 PM. Edited 6 times

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softballcoach

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03/07/17 06:20 PM

First of all Mike I'm happy to finally hear from you my friend. As soon as I got the text from Ken's cousin Marla of his passing I immediately thought of you and your recent health issues and how Ken's death would hit you. I was fortunate to get to know both of you, to spend warm summer days in Cooperstown playing games of Strat at Doubleday , and later taking our games into one of the tolerant eating establishments or the quaint little coffee shop just off the Main road.
I witnessed firsthand the friendship that developed between Ken and you.......two men who I would say are about as different as they come and yet you both seemed to be on common ground on so many things.
Mike ...............who can talk and tell a story after another story and Ken who could just sit back and absorb a conversation and waiting for the right moment to add his input to it. He was intelligent...........I had no idea he was a graduate of Dartmouth ........but it doesn't surprise me. Playing with Ken he always knew what his odds were and he was never afraid to take his chances if held even the slightest edge. As an aggressive third base coach as you ever want to face............and the rolls always seemed to go his way.
Just like Mike I got to know Ken outside of Strat and on more personal level. Mike would usually depart from Cooperstown a little bit before Ken and I so the two of us would talk about more about our work since we both worked for dysfunctional agencies that dealt with issues we were passionate about.
Getting the news of his death was a punch to my gut.........one that I haven't recovered from yet ........and when summer comes I'm sure its going to hit me again when Cooperstown is calling me and I realize my friend Ken will not be there. I always left there looking forward to the next year and maybe with everything that happened there last year it should have been some kind of omen as all three of us had been dealing with issues.
Anyways you wrote a great tribute to Rezz ............I wish I could be so eloquent , but you were the right man to and you did it the right.
Take care of yourself my good friend and please keep in touch

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nwfanatic

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03/07/17 08:54 PM

Mike --thanks for such a wonderful tribute to Ken. It really helps provide a sense of resolution that I needed. 

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delsea2

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03/09/17 02:04 PM

Hi Mike,
Very well put Mike I know Ken would appreciate your kind words. We will all miss him here in the Village that is for sure. I would just like to say that this year I have decided to dedicate the 2017 Spring Classic Tournament in Kens memory. He always had nice things to say about this project so I think it only fitting. So big guy this one is for you.
J.Q.

J.Q. GO 2017 RED SOX !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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thekline

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03/12/17 02:59 AM

Very well said Mike, thank you. 

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