I had the pleasure of working with Dick Sayer through the . My first impression of Mr. Sayer was that he was tall.
This feature stuck with me, because throughout the WG 300 celebration events, Mr. Sayer could be easily spotted at whatever well-attended tri-centennial event I had the pleasure of covering that day.
Yet, with someone so recognizable, it seemed that he only wanted to remain out of the spotlight.
Despite his position as the chairperson of the Willow Grove 300 steering committee, he often redirected any questions I had about an event to other committee members, encouraging them to have their say.
And, he always redirected me with a smile.
After the last Willow Grove 300 event, I finally had a chance to sit down with him and two other committee members, to discuss how they felt the celebration went.
reported how very pleased Sayer and the committee members were with how the celebration turned out – each one emphasizing that the celebration was a successful community-building experience.
I believe we talked together for nearly two hours. And, in that time the one quote by Mr. Sayer that I knew I wanted to keep in the article, would help describe his quiet and reflective nature:
“I sat on a bench for a while, and watched people,” Sayer said, during the Davisville Block Party event, which took place May 21. “We had 3,500 people talking to each other, some for the very first time.”
I recall him saying this with that familiar Mona Lisa smile, when I began to understand what the celebration meant to him. While he never said it, I think he knew he had helped make history in his town.
When I was told about Mr. Sayer's passing, it was obvious the lasting impact he had made on the residents of Upper Moreland.
I wanted to take this opportunity to also express gratitude to Mr. Sayer, because the events he helped organize, placed a stamp of pride in this community. They were not only a pleasure to cover as news, but also a unique lesson on what it means to be a community leader through action and involvement.
I wouldn’t mind growing up to be like him one day.
Patch contacted two members of the community, both of whom worked directly with Mr. Sayer, either in the Willow Grove 300 steering committee and in the Upper Moreland Historical Commission; two organizations in which Dick Sayer chaired.
Richard Booth, who worked on the Willow Grove 300 steering committee, provides his reflections:
Working with Dick Sayer was a joy in almost every respect. He was a very intelligent, hard working guy that had tremendous energy. I often got e-mails from him at 1:00 in the morning, then again at 7:15 [a.m.].
He was an excellent leader that expressed his ideas about how things should be done to the committee. He would listen to the committee's comments and input, then push hard to finalize a course of action. He was an excellent writer and put all of his ideas and agreed upon actions in writing. He had lots of confidence in his ability to make decisions which he readily did.
The Willow Grove 300 helped draw the community together through its over 56 different events. It gave significant exposure to many community groups such as the , , , , , and The Upper Moreland Historical Commission.
Hundreds of people became more aware of Willow Grove's rich history through the five historical speeches, four historical movies, the trolley car tours of historical houses and places, and the historical walking tour.
Dick Sayer's leadership of the Willow Grove Tri-Centennial celebration made all this possible.
Mariann O’Connor, who is the vice-chair of the Upper Moreland Historical Commission, recently submitted a , in which she refers to herself as Dick Sayer’s “Tonto,” and offers these further thoughts:
Gerry, you asked me what is was like to be Dick’s “Tonto” - I suppose my drawing on the “Lone Ranger and Tonto” as that analogy of our relationship, was due to the mutual respect and trust we had in one another. Neither was ever too vain or too proud to not be able to take advice or give advice if needed. Neither of us would have ever hesitated to call one another “Kemosahbee” (trusted friend).
I believe Dick Sayer’s “legacy for the Township” can be easily summed up in this “strict moral code”, that the characters of the Lone Ranger and Tonto were to live by.
It epitomizes all that Dick stood for and worked toward everyday that I knew him.
▪ That to have a friend, a man must be one.
▪ That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
▪ That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
▪ In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
▪ That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
▪ That 'this government of the people, by the people, and for the people' shall live always.
▪ That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
▪ That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
▪ That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
▪ In my Creator, my country, my fellow man."
- By Fran Striker, writer of “The Lone Ranger”