“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying…”
Dateline: Pooley Has Passed
I, struggle, with God.
Struggle, with faith.
Have held the moment of first breath in my hands.
Have held the moment of last breath in my hands.
Have watched eyes take their first look around, and their last.
I, struggle, with God.
If I come to believe in God, it won’t be because of a bible, priests or preachers, churches or bumper stickers.
If I come to believe in God, it will be because of those firsts and lasts, looking into the eyes as those eyes see the world for the first, and last time; it will be because of the quickness of our first breath, the slowness of our last.
Faith, to me, is the belief that the first thing we see, the last thing we see, is God. That God brings us in, and leads us out of this world. Holds our hands on both journeys, and that our first breath is God’s, as well as our last.
I, struggle, with God, not because of how we begin, not because of how we end, but because of all that we are in between.
It’s the in between stuff, that makes me wonder.
Now I want you to step back for a moment, stop thinking about your belief, disbelief in God and how you want to comment on that. Step back and look at your life, look as objectively as you possibly can on it. I know it’s hard so I’ll tell you what to look for.
Look for the Pooleys in your life.
The reason I don’t flat out disbelieve in a God is because of the Pooleys I’ve met in my life.
And I know you have Pooleys in your life as well.
People who become landmarks in your life, people who become the direction signs in your life, people who come into your life AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE, who change you, change you for the better.
We all, when we look back, we all got them.
And if you are freakable, you might want to skip over this next couple sentences because I’m about to freak you out…here goes…
…I believe that when we first open our eyes, when we last close our eyes, these are the first people we see, the last people we see…
…and that they are standing there, next to God.
And they are waiting for you.
“…then we might live life to the limit…”
The moment I met Pooley for the first time I knew I had known him all my life.
We had just been waiting to meet in person.
You ever met a person and right away, as they say, “click.” Well maybe that isn’t as random as we are led to believe. Maybe that “click” is the sound of divine intervention snapping together.
Pooley was my signpost at the biggest turn of my career. I had left a very known career, for a very unknown one.
If I believe in God, I don’t for a moment think he gets involved in career stuff, winning lottery stuff, catching fish stuff, the Buffalo Bills winning the Super Bowl stuff.
I believe he gets involved in the landmark moments of what makes you a person within, gets involved with building the soul of you, gets involved when you come to a signpost in your life.
That’s his sign.
Pooley, was my sign.
“What’s a Pooley.”
That was part of my first conservation with James “Pooley” Dawson, happened at my very first Bassmaster Elite event, happened within minutes of me walking backstage at the event.
Here’s the other part of that first conversation, it was raining and Pooley took his ever present white towel and wiped some of the rain drops off my shoulder, and said to me exactly this:
“Welcome, welcome Don, you’ll be fine.”
And if I was smart enough to know it, if I was smart enough to have faith, I would have know that his remark was a sign, a sign that I had arrived at the next landmark in my life…
…and God had put someone there, to lead the way.
But I wasn’t that smart.
“…every minute of every day…”
Could there have been a B.A.S.S. without Pooley, probably yes, would it have been so kind, so caring, so funny, probably not.
Throughout his illness, many of his friends at B.A.S.S. came to be with him at his bedside, hard to mention them all but among them Ray Scott was there for his friend, Helen Sevier (former president/owner of B.A.S.S.), and B.A.S.S Tournament Director Trip Weldon and his wife Mary came to be with Pooley.
Very early this morning, I talked with my good friend, Trip. Both of us knew this was coming, neither could barely talk to each other about it. I asked Trip what he wanted to say, and he sent an email, told me to fix it, use what I wanted from it.
No need to fix anything, Trip was as close to Pooley as anyone, maybe even more so. This is what he wrote about Pooley…nothing has been changed, or “fixed,” didn’t need or want to do that.
Trip Weldon, tournament director, B.A.S.S.:
Seems everywhere or everything you do in life we have a father figure
along the way. Pooley was exactly that to the BASS Tournament staff,
friends, and anglers. When Pooley walked into a room, his gentleness and
warm smile instantly brightened the place. Personally I can say he guided
me in so many ways not only directly but indirectly by his character. He
always said and did the "right thing," which I think was directed by his
faith. Pooley was a very Godly man. He did not wear his faith around his
neck, rather he let his faith be his template for life. But trust me if
you wanted to get into a spiritual conversation with Pooley he could quote
scripture with the best of them. Occasionally we had those conversations
when discussing real life matters.
James "Pooley" Dawson started at BASS in the early 70s. Ray Scott needed a
"go to guy" to help with his fledgling Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society. He
had a friend at Fort Dixie Graves Armory in Montgomery who recommended
Pooley to Ray for odd jobs. At the time Pooley was the get it done guy at
the Armory and shortly after, Ray hired him full time as "get it done
Pooley" at BASS. He was employed at BASS from the 70s until 2010. He
worked through all four BASS ownerships, three tournament directors,
numerous staff, and a whole bunch of anglers including all of the legends
of this sport.
How strong is the tie between the two, Trip is staying back in Alabama for Pooley’s funeral next Saturday and will not make the Cayuga Bassmaster Elite event.
Dave Precht, vice-president of Editorial & Communications at B.A.S.S., another longtime Pooley friend sent me this:
If one word could describe Pooley, it would be "genuine."
Pooley was one of my first and most enduring friends at B.A.S.S. His laugh could break the ice or elevate your mood, whatever was needed. He was always thinking first of others. There was nothing he wouldn't do for a friend or coworker or total stranger.
He made thousands of friends over the years -- from President George H. W. Bush to budding bass pros -- and no enemies I ever knew of. What a legacy. We all will miss Pooley.
At registration for the Cayuga Elite event, we will have a moment of silence for Pooley, Elite angler James Niggemeyer will pass the hat around among his fellow anglers to help raise money for Pooley’s family to pay for his medical/funeral bills.
“…do it, I say, whatever you want to do, do it now…”
I, struggle, with God.
But I’m beginning to understand faith.
Faith allows us to grasp, death. Faith allows us to grasp, loss. Grasp the horror around us, grasp the love around us. Faith is our inner voice.
Pooley, and those like him in my life, give me faith. I hope your Pooleys do the same for you.
I have absolute faith that if there is a Hall of Fame in Heaven, Pooley is already enshrined, now it is our time down here on Earth to enshrine him in our, Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
If Pooley can’t be with us forever in life with this sport, let him be with us forever in the hall.
Whenever my time comes for me to close my eyes for the last time, I know Pooley will be there along with the other landmark people of my life, and I only hope, have faith that when Pooley closed his eyes for the last time, we were there for him as well.
For those of you who don’t know him, let me tell you a quick little Pooley story…as long as I was around Pooley at every championship Sunday, Pooley would stand on the ground at the corner of the weigh-in stage and wave a white towel to signal the next truck and bass boat that it was okay to drive up to the stage.
I saw him do it dozens of times.
On this championship Sunday for the Elite event at Cayuga Lake, at the corner where he would have stood, I will lay a white towel in his honor, and for as long as I’m at B.A.S.S. I promise the Pooley family, on championship Sunday there will be a white towel on Pooley’s corner.
I, struggle, with God.
I, struggle, with all the bad things that happen to us all, war, terrorism, disease, loss…
…but then I meet, James “Pooley” Dawson…
…and I struggle less…
“…there are only so many tomorrows.”
Pope Paul VI
Love ya Pooley, miss you,
Pooley’s funeral will be Saturday, August 23, at 12:00 p.m., at:
Hopewell Baptist Church
1832 Highway 80 West
Lowndesboro AL 36752
Phillips & Riley Funeral Home Montgomery directing.
c/o MAX Credit Union
PO Box 244040
Montgomery AL 36124-4040