I got a call today. Judy, the wife of my ONE College professor, John Davlin called to let me know he passed away at the age of 81 this week. I call him my ONE professor because of my time at Harford Community College I really can’t remember the name of more than two or three others who taught me. John loomed above them all.
I changed my major to Mass Communications in the Fall of 1985 after bitter disappointment at the Art world I encountered in my first year of college. I found myself disconnected from other artists who in my opinion were using style and culture to hide a lack of talent.
In the Mass Comm. program I found a group of friends I still know today. I was an outcast in High School. College was my “Breakfast Club.” And during this time, John Davlin was my mentor, the reason I stuck with it and made a career, though a short 6 years, of Radio and Television.
John took a liking to me immediately. My second semester he made me the News Director of the college Station, WHFC-FM. My job was to fill the News slots everyday myself or with other students. It was unpaid, but it was my first exposure to a lifelong pursuit of leadership. My Third Semester John gave me a paid position as Program Director of the station, with paid student staff.
I remember vividly standing in the hallway outside the control room talking with Mr. Davlin when the AP wire began ringing. It was the first time I ever heard it ring. Mr. Davlin said it meant something big must have happened. We ran into the newsroom to read the copy coming over the wire. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded minutes after liftoff.
John taught me about Jazz. How to listen to it (Which ruined me on pop music for years after) and how to tell the good from the bad. He gave me my own weekly Jazz program on the station. Having your own program was an honor, and John was the final authority on who got a show of their own. I wrote a promo for the show featuring Sherlock Holmes and Watson. John recorded the voice of Holmes to my Watson. I wish I still had the tape of that.
One day John called me into his office and asked me for a favor. He was getting married to Judy in a month and the wedding party was uneven. One too many bridesmaids. Would I do him the honor of being one of his groomsmen? I never heard of a college professor asking one of his students to be in his wedding. I was honored. As an aside, being in John and Judy’s wedding had an added benefit for me. I learned to drive a stick shift. The day before the wedding my tuxedo was still not ready. We were at the rehearsal and John got the call that it was finally altered and needed to be picked up before the shop in Towson (About a 45 minute drive away) closed that day. John insisted that I take his car. I took the keys, got in and saw that it was manual. I had operated Farm tractors so I knew the basics, but had no practical experience driving a manual transmission on the highway. I made it to Towson and back to Darlington without destroying his clutch. I told John that I had never before drove a stick shift…about 5 years later when I got married!
When I lost my job at one of the last radio stations I worked at, John called me that week and asked me to come over to his office. He said he needed someone to show his students how to write and put together a news cast for radio. He hired me to teach an informal class twice a week in the college newsroom. He paid me with cash he said was from the Stations petty cash fund. Today I am the same age John was when I was his student. Looking back I’m sure he was paying me himself.
Even when I left broadcasting and went into law enforcement and later the ministry, whenever I ran into John he was always supportive and excited for my career path. My time under the guidance of John Davlin prepared me for the business of writing sermons and public speaking.
I know this isn’t a ministry related post. But this minister of the Gospel is thankful for all of his friends, and all of his mentors. John Davlin was both.
Rest in Peace my friend.