The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Stevens: Don McAlavy had a passion for our past

 

July 9, 2016

David Stevens

Don McAlavy was known for many talents. Some knew him best as a historian, others as an artist, and still others as an actor.

I knew him as a journalist.

McAlavy, 84, died in January after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease. Memorial services are at 2 p.m. today at Muffley Funeral Home in Clovis.

We met in 2001 when I came to work for a group of newspapers that included Clovis.

McAlavy was already writing a weekly newspaper column on regional history. He wrote hundreds of newspaper columns in his life, in addition to several books. I knew he loved history because I don’t think we paid him.

I soon learned history was not just a hobby with McAlavy; it was a passion and a calling.

David Stevens

In 2003, he wrote a column about a public suicide that had shocked Clovis decades earlier. He went into detail, providing heartfelt insight to be sure his readers would care about what had happened.

One of the victim’s family members was upset by the reminder. I called McAlavy to let him know. His reaction let me know that history mattered.

While he was sorry the story had upset someone, he said history is history; it cannot be changed to make someone feel better about it, and it should not be avoided because some feelings might be hurt.

It’s important, McAlavy believed, to keep the past alive, with as many details as we can provide, so we can learn from it, gain perspective from it, and use it to make tomorrow better.

Don McAlavy wasn’t just a storyteller who liked snooping around old cemeteries, visiting with old codgers and dusting off old records in the basements of court houses. History was important to him. He thought it should be important to us all.

His love for history also presented itself in the form of a gifted painter whose work remains in the homes of family members and friends. He also acted in and wrote multiple melodramas, mostly about our colorful past; he even helped create an outdoor theater near the Caprock south of Tucumcari.

But I will always remember McAlavy best as a journalist who tried to go beyond the “facts” to give meaning to the events that have led us to where we are.

Thank you for your work, fellow scribe. It will be appreciated for generations.

David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: [email protected]

 
 

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