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.