Irene Goodnight, Tai Chi Student and Member of the Dave Sheldon’s Band, Bend, Oregon, USA
In the 4th grade vernacular of some of my music students, “Dave was killed by a tree.” Or even, “Dave was killed from a tree." It is ironic that Dave Sheldon, the Don Quixote/Rockstar of Bend, died in such a startling manner; a storm caused a huge tree to fall on the van in which he was sleeping on a commute from a job out of town. Being he was a board member of the Central Oregon Environmental Center, one would think the tree would think twice. But then, we can't say that, and it is here we must make a leap into spirituality and realize our human limitations beg our curiosity.
Dave Sheldon lived a certain curiosity. An inquisitiveness of life. Besides being in Jenny's wonderful tai chi class, I played in Dave's bands and as a duo with him from time to time over the past 6 years. To me he was an embodiment of the most enigmatic sign in the zodiac, Pisces, with his dreams in front of him and more than enough courage to go for them. All of them. His talent was in everything he did: singer and musician, bandleader, entertainer, actor, speaker – and all of his public faces showed his kindness, humor and cleverness. A gracious and funny MC, Dave was a rare person who can tell corny jokes and not be embarrassed if no one laughs. He was totally at home on the stage, on the mic, and could rise to any occasion, often without any preparation at all. His portrayal of Don Quixote was so close to his own persona that it was eerie to be sitting in the front row watching him in someone else's story. He loved to sing music in different styles, in band rehearsals often finishing one piece and starting it off again in another style just to see how that would sound. He would engage anyone around to join in, almost as if he was unaware of how amazing his own talent was, he would use it to encourage and entice others to be part of the fun.
Dave was truly a man of the people; he chose to use and share his talents in his family and community, rather than trying to "make it" as others with such talent often do. And being a family man was of top importance to him as well. His huge talents were not for his personal gain, but purely to entertain, and for the joy of being alive. We very much miss him now, and he has left a huge legacy with all of us in his family and community. For that we are grateful! We love you Dave.
Mady Borofsky, Tai Chi Student and Instructor, Golden, Colorado, USA
I would like to share how Jenny Sheldon, a Senior Trainer for Dr. Lam, and Dave Sheldon, Jenny’s late husband, taught me and everyone who has been fortunate enough to have spent time with them the true meanings of the Wushu greeting. I don’t know if Dave even knew the term Wushu greeting, but, he didn’t have to be taught the term…he and Jenny lived the greeting.
Components of Wushu Greeting:
Left index, middle, ring and little fingers together and extended means friendship:
I attended a weekend workshop in Bend, Oregon, taught by Troyce Thome and Jenny Sheldon. Almost the entire town of Bend joined in the workshop. Jenny has created a Tai Chi town there. There were a few of us from other geographical locations, and, we were immediately befriended by all. Attitude reflects leadership, and, Jenny is the leader in Bend. Dave and Jenny hosted a party on Saturday night. I was first greeted by Rasta, the Sheldon family’s dog. He was my first clue about the relaxed, accepting, and friendly home. Rasta wassoaking wet from his swim in the river that flows directly behind the house. Jenny and Dave didn’t care that he was greeting us all in the house dripping happily on the carpet. My next greeting was from Dave. He was quiet but immediately made me feel welcome and comfortable. And, he broke into a beautiful smile which lit up the room, just like Jenny’s.
Left thumb bends to denote humility:
I had no idea what an extremely talented couple Jenny and Dave were. Both exemplified suchhumility that neither gave any hint about the talent hidden underneath their quiet demeanors. They cared about making others feel appreciated and accepted everyone without judgment. The evening that lay ahead was one of the most pleasurable I have experienced in my lifetime. First, the craftsmanship, artistry and love that Dave and Jenny put into their home and surrounding land created a truly special environment. The gardens, rock walls, pathways, fabulous deck built over the river and so much more attested to their handiwork. If that weren’t enough, later in the evening, Dave demonstrated his musical ability. He and his band played and sang the night away on the deck over the river, under the stars and moon. During a break, Jenny without any fanfare, got up and proceeded to play a magnificent drum solo. Their humility, despite their exceptional talents, was humbling.
Right fist to denote strength:
Dave’s character and lifestyle were a testament to his moral and physical strength. His partnership with Jenny; the 3 children they have raised, all beautiful, productive and loving people; the causes he fought for in his community; everything that he stood for took commitment and strength.
Two hands together with right fist on the left palm = Wushu greeting to show mutual respect:
Dave and Jenny showed mutual respect for each other; for their children, their families, their friends, those that had differing opinions, the earth and all its creatures.
Jenny, because of Dave and your friendship, humility, strength, and mutual respect, you have created an enormous family that is here to support and love you in Dave’s physical absence. Lean on us whenever and however you want. But, we all know that your strength will prevail and that you, along with Dave’s influence and spirit, will continue to be a guiding light.
June Didier, Tai Chi Student and Instructor, Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA
Aurelia Hadley,Tai Chi Student and Instructor, Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA
Camille Drotts, Tai Chi Student adn Instructor,Mt.Vernon, Washington, USA
Leigh Willis, Tai Chir Studend and Instructor, Bellingham, Washington , USA
Jenny calls us her "Washington Group" because all of us have been to workshops she has hosted. We have stayed in their home and none of us can think of Jenny-at-home without remembering Dave. He was always welcoming and relaxed, filling their home and the riverfront with his music. After a full day of Tai Chi, listening to Dave and the musicians he gathered together to play for hours of fun and song have become memories we will always cherish. It was easy for us to see clearly how Dave harmonized his life's song with Jenny's and the depth of their bond reflected in the enveloping warmth of their home. None of us will ever forget the sweet experience of Dave, his music and the home by the river.
Joyce Boone, Tai Chi Student and Instructor, Bend, Oregon, USA
When I remember Dave, I see a man who lived his life actively, not passively. Whether he helped film the Calderaworkshops or played his music after dinner, he acted as a partner, helper, and supporter. He was a willing participant in the tai chi community. For such a talented and giving person, he remained remarkably low-key. I think he enjoyed being involved in many projects, and loved the process of collaboration. His contributions made a difference and reinforced the outcome of cooperation.
It was impossible to sustain a grumpy mood around Dave. For a few months, I assisted Jenny in teaching tai chi at the Redmond Senior Center, and when I groggily arrived at the Sheldon’s house in the morning to ride with Jenny, Dave, if home, would energetically emerge from the kitchen; then he would greet me with a cheerful grin and immediately begin an animated conversation. A coffee lover, I felt as if I had received an injection of caffeine.
Clearly, I had to be fully aware to carry on a creative conversation with Dave. Unfailingly friendly and interested in the other person, he just made me feel good. That same welcoming attitude characterized the tai chi parties, where the food, conversation, and memorable music made those occasions unique. Dave’s happiness was infectious.
Dee Ford Potter,Tai Chi Student and Instructor, Bend, Oregon, USA
My brother Jack met and admired Dave and Jenny Sheldon when he attended Southern Oregon College in Ashland.When he and they moved to Bend, and the Sheldons started the Pole Peddle Paddle Race, my family, Dad, brothers, and I participated in the races. My Dad and brothers also volunteered to assist in the production of what became a successful nationally known event, which continues to bring thousands to Bend annually. Dave is the type of person people want to help and support because he gives so generously and enthusiastically. His enthusiasm was always in a quiet, positive, get things started, then carry through for the benefit of all, have fun on the way, and celebrate the successes attitude.
That enthusiastic attitude was carried into the Tai Chi world when Jenny began sharing her knowledge of practicing Tai Chi. Dave helped with the business end, using his skills to take photographs and help create the brochures to promote Jenny’s classes. And he shared the music he loved. He and his band played great music at the Tai Chi get-to-gathers at the Sheldon’s home on the Deschutes River. We even did Tai Chi to the “Honky-tonk Woman” tune that he sang and preformed with all the panache of a “Rock Star!” We will miss his musical performances, but most of all we will miss his open, giving, and generous ways of creating a world that is better today because he shared his true self with us.
Troyce Thome, Master Trainer, San Clemente, California, USA
Jenny Sheldon is the warmest, genuine, most unpretentious person I know. We connected immediately at one of Dr. Lam’s workshops in Southern California. Jenny came down from Bend, Oregon to attend the workshop in the San Diego area. Her daughter Lisa is an amazing model and just happened to be in a fashion show in downtown San Diego the same weekend of the workshop. Jenny asked me if I would like to go with her to the show as she didn’t really know the area and didn’t want to go alone. So we went together in our jeans and tennis shoes. When we got there everyone else was in stilettos and evening dresses. Jenny looked at me and said. “Boy am I glad you are here with me!” We laughed together and that became the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Since that time I have stayed with Jenny and her family many times. From the first visit to her home I felt such a strong sense of family, that I asked Dave and Jenny if they would consider adopting me, as I never wanted to leave that wholesome, warm environment. Dave, their son Nate and many of Dave’s musician friends would fill the house with music and laughter. When we would have a tai chi workshop in Bend Jenny would arrange a potluck party at their home for all of the students. Dave and his band would play for us on their deck on the river, which in turn inspired us to create tai chi moves for Honky Tonk Woman! All of the Sheldons are great cooks and love to make things happen in the kitchen. The home is always full of friends stopping by, it seems everyone feels so comfortable in the Sheldon home it is a great place to just “be.”
I know that my feelings are not unique; everyone that experiences the Sheldons feels the same way. The time spent with the Sheldons has given me some of the most treasure memories I have and I would like to thank the entire family for welcoming me into their home and allowing me to experience the warmth that emanates from every corner.
Robin Malby, Master Trainer, Concord, California, USA
Many people have shared special memories of fun times by the river with Dave and Jenny Sheldon. Evenings ofbarbecue and camaraderie after a productive day of tai chi playing in the little Bend dance studio where Jenny teaches some of her tai chi classes. I had the great good fortune of joining in some of those late night river rock band extravaganzas. Fond memories that for me, have taken on a deeper sense of eloquence now that Dave will no longer be physically present to strum his guitar strings.
I met Jenny at the June Tai Chi Conference in Sarasota, Florida. Sitting across the table from each other during lunch, we discovered that we were both west coasters, and that we had mutual acquaintances in Bend, Oregon, her home turf. I liked Jenny from the start. She was funny, sharp, and unequivocally down to earth. I have watched over the years as Jenny has developed a successful tai chi hub of students who so thrive together they give new meaning to the saying – breathing as one. I have participated as she brought Paul Lam, TroyceThome and I to a beautiful retreat center in Caldera, a quaint dance studio and her niche of the Deschutes River in Bend to give workshops and weave strong tai chi threads. When I ponder on the character of Jenny, one word comes to mind…integrity.
Last summer my husband Doug and I were traveling through Bend on our way to Portland. Jenny and Dave hosted us for breakfast on a lovely wooden deck perched next to their little piece of the Deschutes. As the river flowed so close we entertained fantasies of leaping in and going tubing, Dave hovered around us. He made sure we were comfortable, had our drinks, sunglasses and anything else we might desire. Together he and Jenny served up mounds of yogurt and fruit, scrambled eggs, buttery warm muffins and strawberries with cream. Keep in mind, this was all on rather short notice and Dave did not know us very well. Just a little something they whipped up.
Breakfast conversation first included Dave wanting to know all about us; our present story, life path, our kids. Then it flowed in Dave’s direction, and we learned more about his band, his marketing career, how he and Jenny started a sporting race in the town of Bend, and his involvement in local theatre. The support he gave Jenny’s tai chi life, we already knew. He was a quiet, contemplative man….never once needing to be the center. What we learned of his many talents we had to ask about.
When I ponder on the character of Dave, one word comes to mind…Integrity.
Fond memories that for me, have taken on a deeper sense of eloquence as I sense that Dave will always be present in spirit to strum his guitar strings. Someday in the future, if the band once again blends it’s melody for a tai chi gathering by the river…..make no mistake…Dave will be there.
I would like to add a final note:
The Celebration of Dave Sheldon’s Life took place February 5th in Bend, Oregon. Several of us from the tai chi community were fortunate enough to be able to attend. A huge gathering of people filled the pews of the local Presbyterian Church. This was my first time to attend a service that opened with both family and band members singing a rock song. In this case – “Good Lovin.” Everyone was immediately inspired and uplifted. There were heartfelt speakers and poignant videos, but the music and singing were the stronghold and the glue. Later we were lucky enough to join Jenny, her family and friends back at her home. The band played for hours with a surging energy. In honor of their father, Jenny and Dave’s two daughters and son sang with strength and grace well beyond their years. Through a mix of tears, laughter and tenderness; Dave was toasted often. It was an amazing send off so fitting this very giving man. We will never forget it.