David Forsythe

Heart of the Northwest Dharma Association, David Forsythe, moves on at the end of July.

Fond Farewell to David Forsythe

After nearly two decades of unstinting dedication to the Northwest Dharma Association in one after another critical capacity, David Forsythe has announced his retirement from service at the end of July.

Over these many years David has served multiple terms on the NWDA Board of Directors, as President of the Board, and as the organization’s so-called “Office Manager”, a title which doesn’t begin to suggest the range and importance of duties David currently undertakes. Among NWDA veterans David is simply known as “the heart of the Association”.

At one point in NWDA’s nearly forgotten past, during a difficult transition for the organization, David found himself “the last man standing.”

“There was no one else,” he’s been heard to say. “I was it.”

David was one of the Gang of Three present at the now legendary “Phnom Penh Noodle House meeting” in Seattle where, with George Draffan and Steve Wilhelm, he committed himself to bringing the moribund Association back to life.

A long-serving NWDA Board member, former President, and volunteer staff-person himself, George Draffan relates:

“I remember the day I met David. As a newcomer to Seattle, he had come into the NWDA office to help stick labels on envelopes. I was impressed with his quiet helpfulness, his positive regard for the work of NWDA, and his faith that what we were doing was worthwhile.

“That was many years ago, and I'm still impressed by David”s steadfast willingness to do the actual work that brings benefit to beings far and wide, known and unknown. Over the years David has pulled people together at the crucial moments—and didn”t just ask others to act, but stepped up himself. NWDA has had no better friend and supporter than David Forsythe.”

David”s quiet and consistent behind-the-scenes work, institutional memory, and kind support have held the Association together over the years and have encouraged and inspired many. Former President Steve Wilhelm writes:

“What always struck me was David's continuous kindness and even-handedness. Back during the transitional era of Northwest Dharma, when there were only three board members (David, George, and later myself), David radiated good will and made it possible to reach consensus.

“I remember one time when George and I were working through a difficult transition, and David mostly sat there and listened. He didn't say much, but his presence somehow communicated that it was going to be OK, and that we'd figure it out. And we did. It was so long ago I remember neither the dispute nor the resolution, just David's beneficence.

“From my years on the board, I was always very aware of how consistently and invisibly David stayed in the background, working the machinery that kept the organization alive and thriving. So many people benefited from Northwest Dharma's work ... finding dharma groups that changed their lives ... and probably almost none of them had a clue how David made that possible. So thank you, David.”

In recent years, former President Julie Welch and Program Coordinator Timothy O’Brien depended on David for his multitude of skills, including his mastery of numerous and increasingly arcane software programs. From the very beginning of NWDA’s entry into the Age of Computers and subsequent embracing of email and the internet, David has kept the NWDA files, accounts, announcements and intricate website up and running, with patient and scrupulous attention to detail. (And he’s still a whiz at sticking labels on envelopes.)

Both Welch and O’Brien have also relied on David’s aura of calm and his nearly (but not quite entirely) inexhaustible patience: “He has been colleague, mentor, and—by example—our Dharma teacher.”

Speaking for the entire Northwest Dharma Association, outgoing President Nick Vail adds, “From the bottom of our hearts, we are all grateful for David's dedication and friendship.”