“I love to help people,” Dave said, grinning broadly, as he typically does. “I feel firmly that the good Lord put me on this earth to help people. And I really, really like Elwood. And the toughest part about retiring is leaving Elwood.”
Dave retired about a year ago from the Edward Jones Investments office he owned and managed from 2001 through 2015. But, in keeping with the Edward Jones company policy, he stayed on another year to help his replacements, Scott Reed and Amanda Sylvester, get the business firmly established in the community under their leadership.
“I found the right people to take care of my clients,” he said. “I wouldn’t have left town until I was certain they would succeed. Otherwise, I could have stayed here forever.”
For months, Dave and his wife, Mary Beth, have been packing up and moving their belongings by the carload from their Elwood home to their new digs in Evansville. Leaving wasn’t an easy decision for a couple so firmly grounded in their community.
“I didn’t think I could ever retire in Elwood because I was involved in so much,” he said. “Mary Beth would say, ‘Things haven’t changed since you retired.’ But I felt strongly that as we got older, we’re going to need some assistance, and one of us is going to pass first.”
That was the impetus behind their decision to move to Evansville. They wanted to live closer to their daughters and five grandchildren.
“The whole thing is working out really well,” he said. “As soon as we sell our house in Elwood, everything will be complete.”
Dave grew up in Rushville, where he excelled in baseball before graduating from Rushville Consolidated High School in 1971. He went on to Ball State University, graduating in 1974 with a journalism degree. Soon, he went to work at the hometown paper, the Rushville Republican, covering city news and sports. He also announced sports for local radio station WRCR.
It was in Rushville that he found the love of his life, Mary Beth Lines. The two had been acquainted their entire lives and married in 1972. Their daughters, Angie and Amy, were born in 1977 and 1981, respectively.
In 1984, he came to work at the Elwood Call-Leader, covering sports. He had been announcing sports over Elwood airwaves, WBMP, which later became WEWZ. In 1991, he and two friends started Channel 19, a 24-hour TV station in Tipton. When the local programming took to the airwaves, Dave, acting as station director, jokingly told the Indianapolis Star “We try to do a lot of things we are not capable of doing. … We will try anything.”
That same year, Dave’s life took an unexpected direction that plunged him into something entirely different. He was elected mayor of Tipton, a job he held capably for two terms. It was at the end of his second term, in 1997, that he thought about taking yet another, completely new direction. So in 2000, he moved to Elwood, became a financial advisor, and within months, opened the doors to his own Edward Jones Investment office at 109 South Anderson Street.
Dave’s first turn as the Elwood Chamber of Commerce Board president was in 2007. He made such a positive impact on the community during his term, the board invited him back for a second round. That was in 2015.
“I was representing Edward Jones the first time,” he explained, “and the second time, I represented the Catholic Church.”
Ask Dave what he considers his greatest achievement as board president, and he shrugs it off. “I don’t know that I had any accomplishments. I was just a ring leader.”
The Chamber’s Executive Director Marcy Fry felt better positioned to answer that question with a more objective slant.
“Dave was always forward-thinking,” she said. “With Dave, we were able to move ahead by doing things within the city, and playing a role with our city government. There was a partnership between the Chamber and the city of Elwood, which translated into a team approach that proved beneficial to everyone involved.”
Looking back over the Chamber’s many activities and events, Dave reveals what his favorite has been.
“I love the Chili Cookoff,” he said with a chuckle. “I won it one year.”
He also offered a hint for how the Home, Health and Garden Show might be improved.
“The show is so good,” he said, “but people don’t take advantage of it. It’s a great opportunity for businesses, and I so think they need to take advantage.”
Dave has nothing but praise for the city’s “movers and shakers,” the term he assigns to Elwood’s leaders – Mayor Todd Jones, Chamber Director Marcy Fry, and Roger Gardner, who headed the Ministerial Association during Dave’s tenure as board president. (It’s now headed by Tim Becker.)
“We’ve got a lot of good people,” he said.
He’s also a strong advocate for the Optimist Club, of which he’s been a long-time member and past-president.
Over the years, Dave has earned the respect of his many friends and colleagues. In fact, one of his biggest fans, who claims she already misses him, is Marcy Fry.
“What I’ll always remember about Dave is his knowledge about business,” Fry said. “He brought a lot of that from his background with Edward Jones and as Tipton’s mayor.”
He contributed an atmosphere of fun, as well, she said.
“Not that he didn’t take things seriously,” she stressed, “but he always brought an element of surprise, a different way of doing things. Dave isn’t a man who is set in his ways. He’s always open to trying something new. For the Chamber, it was never his way or the highway. And besides all that … for me, Dave was a mentor.”
Incoming Board President Tom Austin is another, who has valued Dave’s leadership over the years.
Weighing in, Austin said, “David was an exceptional leader of the Board of Directors in 2016. He is a good listener, able to make difficult decisions, and his people skills are great.”
And finally, taking a lighter tone, Pam Gish, administrative assistant/bookkeeper for the Chamber, tells how she remembers the man she calls “Berk.”
“I can sum him up in a few, short words,” Gish said. “Diverse, intelligent, devoted husband and family man, fair, absolutely hilarious, and a true jokester!”
These days, Dave will be returning less and less often to his adopted hometown. But the memories – his, Mary Beth’s, and those of the many Elwood folks who call him friend – are certain to grow only sweeter.
“It was indeed a pleasure and an honor to work with the Elwood Chamber,” Dave said with a smile tinged with a trace of melancholy. “Marcy Fry can stay there until she leaves this earth, and the Chamber will be better for it.”