By Ken Gold
Much has been said about Darrell D. Shine since his passing. And much more will be said as time passes.
D. D. was my friend for several months . . . plus about another fifty-odd years. And as friendships go, where many miles separated daily activity, we saw each other on irregular schedules. But there was a kinship that developed early on. It was a friendship that survived the loss of both our wives, the enjoyment of mutual friends, also gone, like Irv Webb, W.C. Wilson and Ralph Harris.
Then there was the combined work of supporting the Blucher family will and endowment, regarding establishment of a surveying curriculum and the Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science at TAMUCC. There were a few other assignments where we worked together and many where we discussed the challenges and successes in our chosen profession. Of course there was the inevitable lawsuit where we would be on opposite sides. Upon my informing Darrell of such, he barely paused and said, “Well . . . that should keep us both honest.”
D. D. was a prolific story teller. Most were interrupted by appropriate philosophical side-comments where indecision or uncertainty (like deciding on whether to write this “memorial”) was illustrated by comparison to a thumbtack . . . “headed one way and pointed in another.” If conflict occurred he often insisted that finding the truth of the matter was as simple as to “let each tub set on its own bottom.” And sometimes you never knew for sure when he was serious . . . such as when he was giving a talk on the Texas Coordinate System. He was disappointed in the professional work-quality of some surveyors who even put coordinates on their corner points. In jest he said he’d found five markers supposedly (and widely) identifying one property corner and was appalled to state . . . “that two of them are mine.”
D. D. had so many interests. Among them was one thing, besides his family, that gave Darrell an escape from the work-a-day world; it was his banjo. In the last years or so he slipped away from his pickin’. But his talent had led him to play in several banjo groups here and in other states, much to the surprise and delight of unwary audiences. And his “Dueling Banjos” was sheer delight!
He took great pride in his rifles and shotguns, some very rare and very valuable. In recent years he had lost interest in hunting, but always able to rustle up a tale or two to tell. Then there was fishing. He shared that love generously with friends and clients alike, invited to his lake “camp” for an enjoyable several or more days. He was well experienced in the Lake Steinhagen’s waterways and it was either a very slow, careful run or full throttle . . . where keeping one’s mouth shut became an instant defensive maneuver to avoid an overwhelming insect-protein diet. D. D. was always quick to hit the water with a lure and frequently pulled in the first bass often asking why the passenger at the back of the boat wasn’t fishing.
One night while riding in a busload coming back from a TSA outing (probably in Louisiana), Darrell decided we needed some entertainment and decided to recite a poem . . . not just any poem, but the ten verses to Robert Services’ The Shooting of Dan McGrew . . . “A bunch of boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon . . . .” All the passengers were sincerely impressed. It was an unexpected treat. Some long-time later I tried to get him to do it again, but he never did . . . said he’d rather rest on his laurels. He seemed to equate to the old saying, if you hit the bulls-eye on the first shot, you’d best put down your gun.
Darrell had an interesting young life. He’d spent a lot of time in the East Texas forests . . . he said he had actually run away and stayed “gone for a good spell.” That gave him a fond appreciation for nature that guided him for the rest of his life and most certainly aided his decisions when following original surveyors. And there was a story or two about leaves that could be used for certain things, and some that really shouldn’t.
D.D. was a sort of revolutionary. These things didn’t just happen without significant effort and opposition. It was under his TSA (TSPS) presidency that the society finally came of age and moved from a total “volunteer run” organization and took on a professional management company. That change was just one he initiated. As a TBPLS board member another was the TBPLS’s revamping of its testing procedures, the hiring of a testing expert, development of a grading procedure and the establishing of a committee for writing the test questions. It is a process that has been enhanced, but still working some quarter century later.
What will I remember about Darrell Shine? Certainly all those things above mentioned, but more. He had a unique way of delivering his many educational talks . . . often self-deprecating his opinion as from, “just a Jack-leg surveyor.” Or how he was often successful in picking up the check for lunch by saying, “Let me get it . . . I sold some eggs this morning.” Then there was his infamous statement of concern about a surveying adversary, that, “he was seldom right, but never uncertain.”
At one time I wrote that his mold had been long broken . . . but I now believe there could not have been a mold; he was fashioned with unearthly care . . . truly one of a kind.
We will miss him. I will miss him.