David Richard Shular – A Remembrance, One Year Later, February 20, 1940-May 6, 2004

by Janet Louden Shular

David Richard Shular
David actually left about 11:34 p.m. on May 6, 2004, only a few hours after communicating – by grunting – in response to questions from a friend, about NOT wanting to leave me or our family; five days BEFORE our anniversary of being together for 35 years. As it seems, he never really went unconscious.

It was in January 2004 that we got another PET scan. The doctor called at 5:30 am and asked us to come in “right away,” two days before our scheduled appointment. When we got there they asked David: “Are you having any headaches, blackouts, nosebleeds, dizziness, seizures, falling?” He consistently answered “No” to all of the questions. In dismay, the doctors turned to me and asked: “Does he know what we are talking about?”

Of course he did. But what WE didn’t know was that the scan showed multiple tumors on his brain, and another -larger than a golf ball – on his brainstem. They could hardly believe that he was alive AND walking. They began immediately to use radiation to shrink and dissolve all that they could. I bought him a “Cadillac” walker with wheels and had a BIG birthday party for him in February.

Thank God for medical science! Fortunately, we always get the VERY best in medical care. As fate or God would have it, my cousin, a doctor at the hospital that we use, got VIP on David’s chart. He called in his chips FOR David and for me.

During that MOST difficult period of our lives, ALL of our adult children were absolutely WONDERFUL to us, and still are to me. Anthony, who works 3:00 to 11:30 pm, came several nights per week, shopped and prepared our meals for the following day. Maria came as often as possible from Portland, and Jeima, our “baby” who works in a nursing home, was of GREAT help. We had tremendous support from local as well as faraway family and friends.

There were just minutes that I was alone here with David while my son John went to get gas for his 60 mile drive to work, on the following morning. Apparently as a result of me unconsciously screaming SO very loudly that the neighbors heard, some came and gathered near our house. FEELING the stark, clear and TOTAL absence of “the presence of his being” was utterly shocking. The “Life Squad” was called and “worked on reviving him” (against our will), until after 12:00 am. His official death is therefore registered as being on May 7, 2004.

Please pray – or do whatever YOU do with YOUR higher power – for David’s soul to be at peace with whatever IS.

“Love always brings victory.” Pope John Paul II

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

I am writing this not only to honor David, but also with the hope of inspiring someone (OUT THERE) to be “more OPEN” to “help and suggestions” of loved ones.

David was born to his mother when she was about 42 years old. His father was about 62. Their other four children were older. As a youth in Montana, David was exceptional. From the time that he was age 12 until he was 16 his father was gravely ill, and eventually died of cancer-related causes. David ran 17 miles each day from and back to school at lunch time, to serve a mid-day meal for his father, because his mother was an elementary school teacher who had recess duty, and his siblings were adults away from home.

During that same part of his life at age 15, he proved to be an excellent hunter and photographer. In 1955, as a means of providing for the family, he hunted alone, shot a deer and took his own picture by posing with the deer and attaching a string to the camera shutter. As our “kids” say: “Dad McGivered it.”

David was a man for ALL seasons. He was well educated, sophisticated and a politely charming person. He had degrees in Geography and in Earth Sciences from Montana State University in Bozeman. He was extremely handy. He was a welder, and held Ohio Certification in Waste Water Treatment Engineering. He worked for Honeywell International.

In about 1972, during our time in Peoples Temple, we had six children to care for, as well as some Temple neighbors who needed to use our laundry facilities. I bought a “used” washing machine for $25 on Mission Street in San Francisco. Well, I (and almost everyone else that we knew) used that washer, even after we moved it to Yellow Springs, Ohio in the spring of 1977.

One late night in San Francisco, when a Temple friend named Anita Pettit was waiting to finish her clothes, it quit. David got out of bed to fix it. Anita says that what she remembers MOST about that night is: “That’s the first time I ever saw anyone pick up a washer, throw it down hard enough to make it bounce, cuss it out and then…. MAKE it work.” That was David. NO matter what happened to it, he ALWAYS found some way to keep it washing. But then again, David could fix anything.

Finally, in about 1984, I said: “David, the washing machine is getting grease AND rust on the clothes because IT WANTS to stop working. That means that, since I AM working, we are getting a new one.” He was happy to be relieved of the chore of keeping it going. I was happy to get a new washer. That’s how we tried ALWAYS to live, Win-Win.

David was the kind of person that we (our kids and I) had to TRY to stop from helping people along the road. I recall that in about 1997 we were out on the road in our motor home and we saw a young African American woman on the side of the road with small children in the car. He asked me: “Do you want to help her?” Well, the discussion went back and forth until finally we just stopped and backed up. We had a plan. He would help her. I would stand behind her with the tire iron in my hand. Thankfully without incident, he changed her tire and she drove off. We just laughed at ourselves.

At THAT time, I NEVER thought about how, had she made the WRONG move, I might have seriously injured or even killed her. I guess I KNEW: David would have done ANYTHING to save me and get me both OUT and OFF, had I been arrested. I think you call that love AND trust.

Recently our adult son Anthony recalled: “I used to resent it when Dad did not have a night out or go out to a bar with buddies or play golf, like I saw some of my friend’s Dad’s do, but now I realize it. Dad went to work and then came straight home to us, because we were HIS best friends.”

I am SO happy for David that he listened when I cautioned him about working too much and too hard or too long, when I insisted on vacations or trips or just calling into work to spend a quiet day at home. But David and I always thought of work as “transformation,” NOT work-work. I still do.

WE believed: As you are internally transformed or grow, then you must find a way to reflect that in your life and in your environment. By now we all KNOW: Money IS NOT the KEY to security, happiness, success or long life; nor does it unlock the secrets of our destiny or the intension of God’s WILL for us.

I can say with pleasure, that I helped David accomplish many of HIS life goals and yes, he undoubtedly helped me with my life goals. But he also allowed me to help him see and enjoy life from a perspective different from his own. I treasure the growth changes in my life that originated from David.

David was a loving and honorable man. He was a brave and courageous man. I NEVER even knew that he owned a gun but when it appeared that we may be threatened by anyone, he brought out his old western six-shooter, and proceeded to protect me and the children that I had chosen as MY OWN. It’s because of David that when we left Peoples Temple, we made it to safety.

I DO believe in reincarnation and I believed in that BEFORE I was in Peoples Temple. That is one thing that Jim spoke openly about that resonated with me, the belief in reincarnation. In just ONE lifetime, David learned to be willing to try new things and new ways of doing old things: for love, for joy, for pleasure, for learning and the for glorification of HIS creator. I find that remarkable.

I am so happy that I have come to the point of being comfortable in believing certain things:

• I am comfortable with the belief that “FREE” will is just a myth, because I believe that NOTHING IS FREE of RESPONSIBILITY and that the enactment of will requires power.

• I believe that WILL, lacking sufficient POWER, is simply put, just folly. How far can you will to drive in a car that has NO battery? As I see it, it’s also about POWER, not just will.

• As it seems to me, we ALL are alive to try to learn lessons and to be of help to others; to try to learn or to serve as a catalyst for others to learn.

• It appears that BREATH IS THE “gift of life.” Where there is NO breath, there is NO life. In the absence of breath, the GIFT of life IS gone.

• I think of breath as the true essence of the spirit, which I think of as being contained within the soul. But I also wonder: Who among us KNOWS???

David and I always enjoyed having discussions about things like this – Oh! – and about politics, of course. We always voted together. We always celebrated every holiday and cook out or camp out or garage sale find. We celebrated all there is to life.

It’s another one of the many wonderful GIFTS that David gave to me, to our family and to the world; coupled with his “act of living.” Full and unfettered acknowledgement, that I and others DID make a positive difference in his life experience, even now sustains me.

Life and Living Life: BOTH are Miraculous!

Last modified on March 12th, 2014.
Skip to main content