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Darvin Luginbuhl: Four irrefutable facts

Note: The following was given by Gregg Luginbuhl at the memorial service on Friday for his father, Darvin Luginbuhl. The Icon wants to share it with its viewers.

By Gregg Luginbuhl

My Dad Loved Stories. 
Most of his stories originated in real life—at least originated there. We listened first with interest, and later with some weariness and fatigue, as he told them.  Near the end we filled in the blanks and made corrections as he forgot or left out parts.  There was the chicken that he trained to ride on the handlebars of his bike.  (He was not allowed to have pets at home, but his father was a hatchery man, so chickens were available.)   Motivated by his early interest in photography, he tore down the outhouse after his family got indoor plumbing, and used the wood to construct a darkroom in the woodshed.  There were hikes along Cigarette Creek, to Fox Hill, and on to Big Rock.  Paper route stories—he started delivering one paper a mile away from the house—lots of exercise, but minimal reward.  Later, when he collected, women came to the door in various stages of dress.  People haggled about the bill.  He hung on under the iron trestle behind Harmon Field while trains went over. His parents never knew—any of it, he said.  There were Swiss stories, quotations, and epithets (It never mattered if you knew Swiss, the translation always followed.  The ubiquitous phrase, fief nor ongera foggle hit (There is a different bird whistling today), was applied often, to changes in emotions and the weather—and just about anything else.

My Dad was Always Busy
For example, in his job in the Bluffton public schools: he taught Art in all 12 grades, was responsible for the yearbook, directed junior and senior plays, taught Speech, and took students to the Prince of Peace oratorical contests in other communities.  He photographed sports on Friday evenings, then developed the film, made prints in the darkroom, ran the photos to The Lima News —and somehow was back in time for the 11:20pm sports report on TV.  At Bluffton College he was the only art faculty member for the first eight years.  He was responsible for the yearbook, took pictures of many events for Public  Relations, designed and painted theatre scenery, and made posters. It was only a 9 month contract, so he painted houses in the summers to keep the family afloat.  There were Church activities and responsibilities, the Sunday School lesson to prepare, garden club and horticulture shows… but it was all OK-- he was happy to be busy; happy to serve; happy to work with others.  He did not say no to many.

Dad Was My Friend
He involved me, or tried to, in most of the activities, so we did many things together.
We carried clay bags to the third floor of College Hall when the art program was housed there.  We did home repairs, and painted houses and barns—other peoples and our own.  We listened to the radio and talked while we worked.  I liked CKLW, he preferred WJR.  We listened to each other’s music.  He had a passion for gardening.  He was never more happy than when he was headed to the garden with his hoe.  I must confess a sense of inadequacy in this regard, however.   Our garden at the Elm St. house was close to an acre.  Dad tried to indoctrinate us from childhood by repeatedly reading a Little Golden Book titled, The Two Little Gardeners.  He read it almost every night!  When we had other activities scheduled, or were simply avoiding the hot dry garden, he would invoke scripture to arouse guilt. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” he would say. So I sometimes had to bargain away part of my Saturday in the garden, in order play ball, swim, or go to a movie later.  Dad supported me during school years in scouting and athletics, both things he wished he had been able to do himself at that age.  He was a rabid spectator in the gymnasium, with clarity of vision far exceeding that of the referees. All of this support, and all of this teaching, can’t be paid back.  I hope in some measure I have paid it forward to my own children, and that this love and this spirit will be carried forward through future generations.

My Dad Was An Artist
Along with his lifelong interest in photography, ceramic sculpture became his most potent expressive voice.  A boyhood friendship with ceramicist and Raku pioneer Paul Soldner, became a fond professional association and positive influence in his adult years.  A sabbatical leave at The University of Montana under Rudy Autio was also influential.  In the 1970’s his ceramic sculpture began to express concerns for the environment, and concerns about militarism and nuclear war; while Biblical stories, particularly those of the Old Testament prophets, were also of interest.  There were many other fascinations and phases that could be documented.  I learned from him in formal settings, but primarily I was fortunate to have his example in front of me always—this commitment to communication through materials and ideas.  All of us here were fortunate that he was a teacher first, and that he was not selfish in regard to his own reputation and legacy.

Through the busy-ness, the friendships, the dedication to Bluffton and Bluffton University, my Dad and Mom opened horizons for all of us in the family who follow.
Dad came from a rural, blue-collar background and outlook, and opened up many doors by: attending college, looking forward, obtaining a graduate degree, and networking with community members and university colleagues.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to share with him on two occasions, my adult realization that no one in the family would ever come as far in one generation as he had, and that in a very real sense, whatever the rest of us accomplished, we would always be standing on his shoulders.