Friday, December 4, 2009

The Great Dane

by Jeff Crank

There is always something eerie and different about a December morning after a fallen snow. If you stand outside you notice the deafening silence. No birds singing and no animals scurrying – even dogs seem to be smart enough to be huddled up in a warm place. The silence is peaceful but eerie.

This December morning, it is a bit harder for that silence to be broken. I keep waiting for the rumble of a motorcycle or the crack of rifle fire or the belly laugh from my friend, Dane Nowles. I know, deep down, that those sounds aren’t coming, for earlier this week, God called my friend Dane, home.

While I lost a great friend in Dane, America lost a great foot soldier for the conservative cause and a patriot. Dane, a conservative leader, Second Amendment activist, firearms enthusiast and leader in our community died this week of an apparent heart attack. Dane was one of the folks that just lit up a room when he walked in. His intimidating size never seemed to match the smile on his face.

While we worked lots of campaigns together, laughed, fought for gun rights, and walked precincts to get candidates elected, we often talked about hunting pheasants together. Like so many things in life, we just put it off until tomorrow. Because of our decision to wait until tomorrow, tomorrow never came. I never had the chance to walk that field with Dane – a deep regret because there is almost nothing more important than the time that friends spend in the field.

Most who knew Dane only viewed him through the rugged prism that he was – the wisp of grey hair and beard. The deep-set eyes and the imposing physical characteristics that he carried. But Dane was much more than that. He was deeply intellectual and someone who was well-read on public policy and the world – someone who could debate you, and win, without batting an eye.
The last conversation I had with Dane was a week before God took him home. Our conversation was about character and the importance of keeping your word. Honor. Integrity. In a world where those values don’t seem to matter, they were matter-of-fact to Dane.

As the shock of the death of the Great Dane passes, I know I will hear the roar of motorcycles again. As an outdoorsman, I know I will hear the crack or rifle fire soon. While there will always be laughter, we won’t hear THAT belly laugh again until we see Dane in his new home.
Of all the great things that Dane was- outdoorsman, leader, great thinker, patriot- I was most proud to call him my friend. Rest well with the Lord, Dane. Rest well, my friend.


  1. It is sad indeed that Dane has passed. I saw him last a few months back at a going away party for a young man now at Columbia law school. Hard to believe he has passed. It is a loss to our commmunity and to conservative causes. May his friends and family find comfort in the deep respect and love that so many had for Dane.

  2. Julie Butterfield (Thompson)December 6, 2009 at 6:03 PM

    Dane was a part of my family and amazing man that made a huge impact in my life and my family. We will miss his smile and his energy for life. I will always remember that whenever you ask Dane how he is doing, he says with enthusiasm "It don’t get no better than me" How true that statement is... Dane saw me personally through some ruff teenage years and I am thankful I had him to whip me into shape. I am also thankful to Dane for his friendship to my dad. Friends like that are hard to find and my Dad was truly honored to have him in his life. Rest in peace Dane we will always love you and keep your memory alive!

  3. Certainly a very fitting tribute to a special friend of mine that I was hoping to spend more time with before the 2010 elections. I did not know Dane nearly as well as those who worked with him on Conservative projects or at Ellen Equipment, but he was always an inspiration to me in that arena and others. The world would be a far better place if we had more like him. The one comfort in my sadness is knowing that he is in an indescribable place in the home that Christ prepared for him. I bet there's plenty of pheasants, and all kinds of nature all around him there. I bet he's got his own 'white horse' (Rev. 19:14) to ride now. I'm sure I have no idea how wonderful it really is, and that's my comfort. I will miss him very much. -Don Leander