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Remembering David Drysdale: A Tribute to Grace, Generosity, and Living in the Present

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The first time I met David Drysdale, I was a participant at Hollyhock. I remember walking into the Gateway building full of nerves, anticipation, and a certain amount of awe. In the corner of the building, was a warm, smiling man. His smile reassured me. We didn’t exchange words, but I felt grounded by his presence. 

I joined Hollyhock as CEO, a few years after David had left his role of Operations Director due to health concerns. David and I became neighbours in 2018 on Reef Point Farms (thanks to Mark and Sherry Deutschmann). I would often see David walking Bonnie (his dog with only one eye that my young children loved) through the Reef Point forest. He would stop to talk and we would exchange kind words, talk about an opportunity or challenge at Hollyhock, discuss his health, or simply philosophize about life, island living, Buddhism, or tea. 

When the pandemic hit in 2020, David was particularly vulnerable. Our conversations now took place on his back deck. We would sit 10 feet apart, drink our tea, and he would provide counsel on how to get Hollyhock through this incredibly challenging period. He urged me to lead from values, to put people first, and to hold a long perspective. His experience, perspective, and love soothed my frayed nerves and I believe provided him belonging and connection during those early months of the pandemic. 

David provided the same insights, care, and warmth to the Operation Directors that came after him – they trusted him as a confidant and turned to him with questions, concerns, and challenges often. He always had time for our team and was generous with his time even though he knew it was limited. That was truly David’s grace – he knew that his time was limited and he lived his life as generously as he could. I have often reflected on that – both with sadness and joy. David was a deep example of living grace, holding the complexity of joy and suffering of daily life. 

I remember in late 2022, amidst another health setback, when I was saying goodbye to him for the season, I casually said, “see you in the spring David” and he said, “you might not.” He wasn’t joking, he was being real. In just a few simple words, he was reminding me to be present, to live in the here and now, and to practice non-attachment. It was beautifully profound. Thankfully, he was wrong. I did see him in 2023, smiling and bright at many Cortes events and around Hollyhock. 

David’s loss will be felt deeply across the island, at Hollyhock, and among his family and friends. He will be greatly missed and forever remembered as part of the Hollyhock community. 

Thank you for your service and grace David. I will miss you.

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