Memorial for Donald Douglas Oxendine
(June 1, 1970-November 18, 2021)
To Roxannne, Chantel, Brook, Summer, Skylear, and to all the grandchildren, the extended family, and friends, I regret that I cannot say these words to you in person due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When I first returned home to live in Dillon at my newly purchased farm house at Smoke’s Place, Donald was working at that time for a tree company that I hired to cut down two diseased cherry trees for me and plant two fig trees. Shortly thereafter, when I began work on a second house that I had moved onto the property, I hired Donald to help me restore this house that had been previously abandoned in a cottonfield a mile away. We salvaged vintage heart pine lumber from tiers of old tobacco barns by milling these rough boards to finish lumber. Donald built bathrooms and kitchens out of this wood in the same style and design of my 19th century house. His craftsmanship was superior, far beyond what I had been able to find anywhere in the Pee Dee area.
Every year, during my winter recess and during my summer vacation, Donald and I worked on the many projects around Smoke’s Place in Dillon and later on, on my properties on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He would bring along his helpers and buddies—the two Tim’s, Josh, LG, Frab, Steve, Tasha, Tony. and finally his son, Skylear. He always looked after their welfare and interests and displayed true leadership skills on the job. After he quickly looked over a job, he would immediately take charge in getting it completed. He was as fast as lightning; there was nothing slow about him. His movements were quick, and his coordination, especially when driving any vehicle, was on target. The same with a chain saw. His mind was razor sharp in many areas, but certainly when estimating materials needed for a job, or when calculating his payroll for the week. He worked hard. He loved to tackle new and challenging projects. He and I took a S.C. forestry course together on conducting controlled forest fire burns. Our countless trips to Lowe’s and to Dillon Wood Works are also part of our history. He always gave me, and everybody else, a full and hard day’s work. And I always responded in kind, in deep appreciation of his exceptional output. We worked well together because of the mutual respect and admiration that we shared.
His completed work projects can be seen all around my farm property—restored Palladian porches, reconstructed foot bridges, designed brick walkways, asphalt and metal roofs on houses and barns, mantels, crafted cabinetry, and any and everything having to do with wood, construction, and restoration. He knew also about machines, about plumbing, about water pumps, and about wells. If it could be done, Donald would find a way to do it. And the end product was always beautiful and well built.
His knowledge was vast. He knew about raising chickens, about growing beautiful flowers, about tending a vegetable garden–about when to plant and when to prune, when to harvest and when to cover up. He learned these things at his mother’s knee, picking cucumbers, with his own row to carry, at an early age, His mother Susie, as a single struggling parent, taught him the difference between right and wrong, and she instilled in him the dignity of honest work for fair pay. She taught him manners, good behavior, and respect for his elders—the same traits that he has passed along to his own children and grandchildren. He wanted them to pursue their education, expand their minds, and take opportunities that he never had.
He knew that there was a time and season for everything—a time to live and a time to die. He told me last summer that life is a fleeting gift, and death is certain.
A strong-willed man of honor, of integrity, and of intense passion, he loved his children, his grandchildren, and his wife. In short, he loved and provided for his family. His legacy of hard work and his many contributions to this community will remain with us forever. His final tribute to our friendship was his remarkable clean-up at Smoke’s Place with his son Skylear—mowing, weed-eating, raking, and the like. I shall always cherish the memory of this true friend who always loved and appreciated the beauty of, and who will always be part of, Smoke’s Place. I’ve lost a good, kind, generous, and great friend in Donald. May he rest in peace.
Kenneth R. Manning
161 Saint Botolph Street, Boston, MA 02115
Memorial for Donald Douglas Oxendine