I just found out that a friend of mine from high school died a few months ago. I googled his obituary, and I came across a website dedicated to his memory. His name was SSG Milford Dean Lacquement, Jr. Or as we called him in school, Deano.
I tried to e-mail his family with my memories of him, but the e-mail came back returned. But I want someone to know, so I'm posting the message here. So here's to you, Deano. You were a good man. Thanks for who you were.
From: John Curry <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2007 13:14:33 -0500
Conversation: I'm a high school friend of Deano's
Subject: I'm a high school friend of Deano's
I don’t know who exactly this e-mail is going to, but I’ve just found out about Deano’s death, and I would love to tell you about my relationship with him.
First of all, allow me to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I remember Dean as one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. I’m not exactly easy to get to laugh out loud, but he kept me in stitches.
I can’t remember when exactly he moved to Mustang, but I first remember meeting Deano on the football field. We were both linemen, and so we got to spend all of practice together. And as you spend that time, you get to know someone. Eventually Deano started picking me up for practice, and later for school, and he was my ride for a couple of years to school. I honestly don’t remember what music we listened to or what we talked about, but I do remember laughing constantly. His laugh was so contagious . . . Well, you know what I mean.
Other than a ride to school, Dean had two very specific impacts on my life that I’m sure he never knew about. First, he always supported me in my beliefs. I’m a Mormon, and let me tell you what, at that time in Mustang, I caught more than a fair amount of flack about my religious beliefs. But I always remember Dean telling me to stick to my guns and do what I felt was right. He encouraged me to live my beliefs. I remember one specific incident where he and I were going home from football practice, and as usual, he was driving. On this particular day, he was also giving a ride to two other members of the team. One of the guys in the back seat pulled out a ziploc bag of an “illegal substance.” I asked him what it was, and they told me. I had never seen anything like it before. Well, I told them to put it away, because I didn’t want anything like that around me. Then the two guys began teasing me because I had never had any and because I was asking them to put it away. Dean told them to leave me alone, and that if I didn’t want it around, they needed to respect it. They put it away, and we never talked about it again. But he stood up for me, and he made me know it was OK to believe how I did. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve told that story over the last twenty years as an example of friendship.
One of the other things I struggled with in high school was academics. Now I wasn’t stupid, on the contrary, I was very smart. However, I tried NOT to get good grades because I “didn’t think it was cool.” Deano talked to me about that, and actually convinced me to join him on the schools academic team. So he and I would travel to the academic competitions and compete. He always told me that we needed to take that seriously and who cares what the other guys think? That example had a profound impact on me. How much? Well, I realized from Dean that I could still be “cool” and make good grades and take school seriously, and now I am a college professor. I honestly trace my belief in myself that I could do it back to that conversation with him. Again, I’ve told that story hundreds of times in the last twenty years.
I last communicated with Dean in March of last year. Our class reunion committee sent out their first e-mail, and I saw his name on it. Here’s what I wrote him:
From: John Curry [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2006 12:25 PM
Subject: Is this still you, Deano?
I just got Sherri Cothran’s e-mail about our 20th reunion and saw your name. Is this e-mail still good for you?
I was just telling a story about you the other day. Weird.
He responded with:
From: dean lacquement <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 16:58:41 -0500
To: 'John Curry' <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Is this still you, Deano?
The one and only, and how are you Doctor Curry? How in the world did you end up in Stillwater? Did you go to the 10th reunion? To be honest with you, I haven’t kept in touch anyone from High School. I currently live in Virginia, Active Duty Army, and am an Instructor at the Blackhawk Helicopter School. Life is great, been married 16 years and have to great kids, Lindsey (9) and Zachariah (7). So, that’s my scoop, what’s going on in your world.
Great to hear from you!
I never got back to him, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about him. I can only imagine the grief he would have loved to give me about teaching at Oklahoma State. We were such OU fans growing up.
In short, I know that I’m just one of many who have expressed condolences at Dean’s death, and I know that I don’t have to tell you what a great guy he was. I just wanted you to know how much he had affected me in my life. I’ll always remember the dimple and the raised eyebrows—and the laugh. I could never forget the laugh.
Thanks for putting up the website with pictures of him. He looked happy. I appreciate his service in the military and the way he and his fellow soldiers work to protect our freedoms here in the United States.
I pray blessings on your family.
John H. Curry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Educational Technology
Oklahoma State University
209 Willard Hall
Stillwater, OK 74078