When we heard Gary Revier had died, something like 95 percent of that next issue of the Gazette was finished and ready to send to the printing plant.
I knew we’d have do to a last-minute overhaul, so I phoned Troy to work out a plan. When the mayor of a small town dies unexpectedly it’s automatically big news. I knew we’d have to whip out some new stories and redesign some pages in a hurry.
Once we figured out how we were going to handle that issue, Troy asked, “And how are you?”
I fumbled for words and said something like, “Ah ... I ... I don’t ... um .... It’s kinda taken the wind out of me.”
I think most people who knew Gary felt that way.
Like most extremely public people, Gary was a very private person. When I’d try to get him to open up about his life he’d let me get so close, but if I pushed he’d change the subject.
And I respected that.
But in the last week I’ve heard many, many people share their Gary Revier stories. For what it’s worth, here are a few of mine:
• Gary was my second-cousin; he and I shared the same great-grandparents. When he’d call the Gazette with another history-related story idea, he’d always start his calls with, “Hey, Cuz, this is Gary. Are you busy?”
• Before my wife Shawn and I married, she visited Redwood a couple times. During our first outing as an official couple, one of the first people we bumped into was Gary.
When he found out Shawn was with me, his instant response was to welcome her to the community. Shawn’s first invitation from someone outside the Dixon family to make Redwood her home came from Gary.
• Last summer Gary approached me about a writing project. He wanted to do a book about Redwood Falls founder Colonel Sam McPhail, and was talking with the Minnesota Historical Society about having it published through them.
Gary was already hip-deep into the research part of it. (When he recently uncovered a treasure trove of original McPhail artifacts — including several of McPhail’s original journals — Gary was giddy with joy.)
But Gary wasn’t confident about trying to create an actual book out of it, one with chapters and paragraphs someone in the real world would want to read. Would I be interested in collaborating with him on the writing part?
Obviously I was. The last I heard a couple weeks ago he thought we could begin turning it into a book sometime next spring.
Page 2 of 2 - Grrrrr.
• Several years ago Gary gave me a portable hard drive with about a quarter-million old photos and newspaper clippings about the Redwood area.
It was just a small portion of his full collection, but I hope to use them to do what I can to keep his work going and help tell the story of this area. I hope the people he left the remainder to are as generous with sharing his collection as he was.
It would be a shame if all that material just disappeared into someone’s closet and wasn’t seen again.
• Gary’s two schnauzers — Greta and Pepper — are siblings of the Dixon family’s two schnauzers, Rufus and Raffi.
Gary always said it would be fun to get the four of them together for a play date sometime, but it never happened because, you know, life is busy, and there’s always tomorrow....
See you later, Cuz.