I have just received the shocking news that David Alway, a longtime presence in the midwest filk community, died of cardiac arrest this morning. His brother Peter posted details to his journal.
I have known Dave for a long time; I couldn't say just how long, and I don't have any kind of records, but I would guess roughly 20 years. He's been a fixture of the conventions I frequent -- Chambanacon, the Chicago cons, any Michigan cons I got to -- and in more recent years, the filkcons I make it to, OVFF, FKO, and GaFilk. He was never a flashy star performer, but he was always there, making pleasant and intelligent conversation during the day and taking an occasional turn in the filk at night. His presence helped us to stretch our understanding of what filk is. He never played a guitar. He played a mountain dulcimer, sometimes instrumental solos, sometimes accompanying songs, but more often he would sing a capella, and most of the time, he would read poetry. He was quiet and unassuming, but when he read poetry he became animated and passionate. Alfred Noyes' "The Barrel-Organ" was always a favorite of mine. It's a long enough piece that few people would think that anyone would perform it at a filk. Dave was nothing if not polite and sensitive, so he wouldn't read it when there were many people clamoring for turns, but when the circle was small and quiet, he sometimes would, and he made it quite exciting.
Dave always seemed to be doing something to benefit fandom. For many years, he carried a camera with him at conventions, and he could be found in the con suite with albums from past conventions, and if you found a picture of yourself in the album, it was yours to take with you. In more recent years, he seems to have tired of the camera and photo albums -- perhaps because now that everyone has a digital camera, a snapshot from a con isn't such a rare treat -- but he acquired a button maker and delighted in making Filkhaven badges and other special projects. At first he just gave the buttons away to friends, and then he started selling them for Interfilk. He still donated both his time and the materials; every dollar he collected went to Interfilk to help transport filkers to places they otherwise couldn't go. His newest creation was a "Pengu the penguin says Always Filk Safely" button; I hoped to get a copy of the button art not made into a button so I could put it on my guitar case, but he made all the copies he brought to GaFilk into buttons.
One of Dave's traditions was a quarterly music party at his residence, styled Glimmerglass House. Because he lived rather far from me, I would have had to take a whole weekend to attend, and I kept saying "maybe next time". It's important to remember that nothing is forever and sometimes there isn't a next time.
I'll miss you, Dave. Thanks for all the good times.