Thursday, July 01, 2010


The Last Farewell To Tinney Chapel's Danny Lake

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The Last Farewell To Danny Lake,
A Man of Authority, Artistry and Honor

The flag-draped coffin dominated the cavernous chapel at Beaty Funeral Home in Winnsboro, Texas, on this first day of July, 2010.

At least one of those who came to pay final respects to Danny Lake was late, and was speeding en route to the funeral when he spotted a police car in his rear-view mirror: Oh no, was the disappointed response to an expected ticket for driving 80 in 60, but suddenly it became apparent that the officer was driving a police car from Mesquite, Texas, nearly a hundred miles west of Winnsboro.

Soon the officer, also speeding, passed by, and the Winnsboro resident breathed a sigh of relief as he realized: I know you are going where I'm going, and I'll stay right behind you.

He was right. The Mesquite Police Department, where Danny spent much of his career before moving to Winnsboro and Tinney Chapel, sent a large honor guard to this event, including several squad cars for officers to use in directing traffic at the five turns required by the long funeral procession to Shady Grove Cemetery. (See photos above.)

Danny's Pastor, Rev. Sue Gross, of Tinney Chapel United Methodist Church, officiated at the funeral, entering the Beaty Chapel as she read Scripture aloud. Her main Scriptures were Isaiah 40:28-31 and selected verses from the Gospel of John, much of it from Chapter 14. Following Rev. Gross into the Beaty Chapel was the large family contingent of the late Danny Lake, rancher, cowboy poet, gunsmith and stalwart churchman.

The three songs chosen for this event, Sanctuary, Amazing Grace and Here I Am Lord, were all familiar to Tinney Chapel's rural congregation, which sang along at times during the funeral renditions.

All of us at Tinney Chapel knew that Danny had been a peace officer most of his adult life, and that he had spent more than a little time in the Armed Forces of the United States. But Pastor Sue expressed surprise that Danny had also spent some time as a Fireman before becoming a policeman, which included time as both a State Trooper and a tactical policeman, who was also called on at times to be a firearm instructor.

We learned that Danny had spent time in the Navy and the Army Reserve. That he had met his wife Patricia in a Seven-Eleven store.

It was no surprise to any of us that Danny was a cowboy poet, since he was the permanent MC for our church's annual cowboy poetry gathering and always read some of his original work at those events. That he was also a rancher who herded his cattle virtually in the shadow of Tinney Chapel was nothing new to us either.

Perhaps some of us were a tad surprised that Danny's artistic bent went rather deep: He had also been a painter and a whittler, a descriptive term that has always seemed inadequate for those who are really good at whittling. What is the difference, say, between a good whittler and a sculptor? In any case, Danny had been good at whittling, and once carved a Native American totem pole, then painted it and personalized it for his daughter Christine.

Danny's life had emphasized a lot of outdoor activities. He liked to camp and cook outdoor meals on camping trips. Soon after locating his ranch near Tinney Chapel, Danny supervised the building of a tight fence around his 80-plus acres and was usually out working cattle most days.

As a gunsmith and gun collector, Danny enjoyed keeping his skills honed and was on the firing range as often as he could manage. It did not seem to bother him that his daughter Christine was a better shot than his son Ray: After all he had trained both of them well!

As a true patriot, Danny was proud of his grandson Jeremy, who is currently serving in the Armed Forces, deployed to the Middle East. Danny and Jeremy enjoyed hanging out and swapping military stories, said Pastor Sue.

Most of all, concluded Pastor Sue, Danny Lake was a loyal family man, very protective of his family and his friends. And, of course, he led a full life as a true cowboy.

He was just 67 years old.

Reluctantly and sadly, we all bid him a final farewell. But he will not be forgotten.


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