Dale Harro, Born into the Depression #222

Dale Harro, MD died on September 16, 2014. He had served on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors for 33 years. Dale’s 5 sons were Deerfoot campers and staff members, and now his grandsons are Deerfooter’s. Dale and I made 23 round trips between Delmar, NY and Newark, NJ where Deerfoot’s Board of Directors meet every November. Through our hours riding together, I learned what I share with you. When Dale told of these experiences, it was almost always with a smile, a laugh. Through these, and many other experiences, Dale developed into an incredible man with a rock solid trust in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Dale Harro lived In Partnership With God. I confirmed these remembrances with Dale’s son, Ted, who is now a member of Deerfoot’s Board of Directors.

Dale was born in 1929, the first year of the Great Depression. He was the youngest of 10 children. Soon after he was born, his father lost his job working for the railroad and the family lost their home.

They were able to live in a hovel with no indoor plumbing located on 26 acres. Dale’s father got a truck which he used to haul coal from the mines to people’s homes. At the age of 6 Dale was responsible to buy his own clothes. He earned his money cutting flowers on the “farm”, and he would sell them door to door in a more affluent area of a nearby town. When Dale began school, his teacher would give him ½ pt of chocolate milk for lighting the wood stove every morning. These were tough days for everyone – the recession hit its peak about 1937 – Dale would have been 8 years old. When Dale could reach the pedals, his father had him driving the coal truck. He laughed telling about the day the brakes on the old truck failed, and he headed for the ditch.

When Dale went to Wheaton College he worked in food service. This helped pay his tuition, and provided his food through the week. He shared a room with his brother. There was only one bed, so they slept at different times. They wore the same size, so they shared each other’s clothes. Every weekend their landlord gave them a loaf of bread and a bottle of peanut butter and of jelly. Dale said he wondered how they would have survived without them.

During Dale’s junior year of college, his father had a heart attack. Dale returned home to help care for his father. His father’s physician made house calls and noticed how good Dale was at caring for his dad. The doctor wrote a letter of recommendation for Dale to get into the Temple University Medical School. Even though he had just completed his junior year in college, Dale went for the arranged interview, as nervous as you can imagine. If he was accepted, he would have his draft requirement for the Korean War deferred. After he finished medical school, he would serve his 3 years of public service as a doctor.

During the interview, the Dean of the medical school said that he noticed that Dale had gone to a “religious” school. The Dean went on to say, that if Dale came to Temple Medical School, he would have to set aside his religion. Dale stood up and began to walk out of the office. The Dean asked him why he was leaving, and Dale told him he could never give up his religion. The Dean had him sit down. The Dean completed the interview and Dale was accepted and enrolled immediately.

When Dale did not register for the next semester at medical school, the Dean called him in and asked why. Dale said “no money.” The Dean told him to register anyway. From then on his tuition was paid.

Dale’s public service assignment was to provide medical service for a small town. Soon after he arrived, he came to realize that there was a very poor group of people in the area who were not able to use the clinic. He then set up a clinic for them. After serving the 3 years, he earned his Masters in Public Health from John Hopkins Medical School.

Next week: The impact these experiences had on how Dale lived his life In Partnership With God.

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant! part 1 #221

Dr. Dale Harro MD died this past week. He served on the DL Board of Directors for 33 years. Dale’s 5 sons were campers and staff members, and now his grandsons are campers and staff members. I confirmed my observations and remembrances with Ted Harro, Dale’s son, now a member of the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors.

I wish I could have been in heaven to hear Jesus say: “Dale, well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21

Dr. Dale Harro, MD, became a member of the DL Board of Directors in 1980. Over time, average attendance had dropped from about 100 per session to 50 per session. Ray Hanelius, the present director, was a high school teacher and coach. It was impossible for him adequately recruit and train staff, seek camper registrations, and keep the facility and equipment in reasonably good condition.

Dale quickly realized that Deerfoot Lodge would have to hire a full time director, or close. In 1981, with his letter of resignation in his pocket, he shared with the Board his conviction. They agreed, knowing that all of the funding for the new Director, for necessary equipment, and for operating capital would have to come out of their pockets.

The Board asked Dale to be the chairman of the selection committee because he was not related by blood to any board member or any potential candidate. Then the word went out: Deerfoot Lodge was seeking a full time director. There were 11 applicants. Most had been DL staff and were related to Board members. I was #11, an unemployed camp director who, five months earlier, had been asked to resign.

When the selection committee had narrowed the number of applicants from 11 to 3, Sally Jo and I flew up from Dallas to see the Deerfoot facility. We met Dale in Albany, and drove together to Deerfoot where we were greeted by a blue sky, 6” of fresh powder, and a bright sun! You can’t begin to imagine our excitement when we walked up to Old Hardwood and looked across to the Dugs. This was not Texas!!!

Dale walked us through camp: Founder’s Lodge, Old Hardwood, the dining hall, the staff cabins, the health center, out to the Point, back through the Woodsmen section to the Island. We were freezing! We had seen enough of camp, but on and on we went. If Dale wanted us to see it…. We learned later that Dale was freezing too, but he was convinced we wanted to see it all!

As the sun set, we headed to the Harro home where we would spend the night. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and evening together. Lots of stories, lots of laughter!

The selection committee recommended me to the Deerfoot Lodge Board as the new Director. At the January Board meeting I was interviewed at length. Eventually I was asked to make myself comfortable in a chair down the hall. I waited and waited and wondered what I would do if I was not offered the job. I had turned down several employment opportunities – nothing seemed right. Sally Jo and I were both excited about this opportunity. And I waited. Eventually Dale came out laughing! The Board had quickly approved the selection committee’s recommendation – and then moved on to other business. They had totally forgotten about me!

After the meeting, Dale told me that I was “God’s man for the job”, and that I should never forget this. He went on to tell me that he knew, and I should realize, there would be great difficulties ahead…”Chuck, remember: you are God’s man for the job!” The difficulties came. I found comfort and courage in those few words.

Success! #220


When the “camper car” comes over and down the hill, every returning camper and staff member is looking for The Pig. The road into camp just “feels” good. The Gazebo, Founders, Old Hardwood, Whitaker Lake, the Dugs – even as we read this progression, every landmark brings memories.

And very little changes. Friends from the same session last year are back, and new campers are met. Then its line up, into the dining hall, sing, pray, good food. End the evening with a campfire and the same crazy campfire songs that have been sung at DL, most for 50 years.

In instructional areas there is always something new to learn. It is ok to fail to even hit the target. “I can do this!” And then the target is missed again…then finally hit consistently. In camp craft a first year camper fails to build his fire on his first try, possibly on his second – no big deal. In time fire building will be routine.

“Bringing Out the Best in People” is a book that was required reading during staff training. Rule # 4 “Create an environment when failure is not fatal”. The standards are not lowered to prevent failure. Yes, at DL there is failure, lots of it. But with more teaching, practice, and encouragement eventually the fire is built, the archery target is hit, and the “canoe to the point and back” are passed. Fear of failure decreases. Skills develop. Self discipline and self confidence grow. Success is achieved. “Yes – I did it! Boss! I knew I could!”

I worked with my grandson, Tobiah, so that when he got to DL, he was ready to pass his basic in canoeing. After camp:”Tobiah, did you get your basic?” “Grandaddy, I passed all my strokes but did not go straight on my point and back – but I will do it next year, for sure!” I gave him a hug, said I knew it would be tough – and we laughed together. Tobiah and I will canoe together between now and his next session at DL. Fun for both of us!

There is an easy shift from the work required to earn a basic, advanced, or master’s in the instructional areas, to living as God’s man – living a life pleasing to God! In order to live as God’s man, the basics must be learned through teaching and personal Bible reading. Gradually an understanding is gained of what it mean’s to be God’s man. At Deerfoot it really helps that DL campers, and staff, are surrounded by other DL campers and staff who are also seeking to live lives pleasing to God. None of us ever hits the bull’s eye every time. Failure is not fatal! Forgiveness is available! We keep working at doing what is right every time – to God’s standard. And God’s standard is never lowered. Keep lowering the standard, and soon there is no awareness of wrong, of failure, of sin.

And so we leave Deerfoot Lodge. What encouraged us to live as God’s men is required in some form if we are to live lives pleasing to the Lord. We need to have Christian friends around us – at least at church. We need to have someone continue to teach us about living as God’s man. And we need to take the time to thoughtfully to read the Bible and to pray.

With archery, when practice stops, eventually there is no chance of hitting the bull’s eye. If we stop learning from God’s people, being encouraged by God’s people through how they live and what they say, and stop even picking up the Bible… Enough said.

On July 1, while on a plane heading for Memphis, I realized that I had not been faithful in having my devotions. I am not sure when my pattern, my self discipline failed, but it did. It was time to begin again if I was to live as God’s man, In Partnership With God. Having my daily time with the Lord is included in “Do what is right, every time.”

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — II Timothy 3:16-17