NewsPub Notes

Remembering Del Dunn and Advice From Woody Guthrie

Del Dunn 1941–2021. Credit: Peter Frey / UGA

Giants baseball coach Leo Durocher proclaimed, “Nice guys finish last,” but he didn’t know Del Dunn, who died recently. Del, like his friend and colleague, the late Tom Dyer, had the human touch that made people better—that excellent characteristic of the best teachers. And Del, like Tom, was devoid of that ambition that treats each job as a step up the ladder of advancement.

“Gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” Del was a teacher and a scholar, and that’s what he wanted to do. Because he taught and researched and wrote so well, he kept on getting promoted and called on to fill in whenever higher administrative positions fell open. He was the consummate academic administrator, but his ambition pulled him not toward the executive office but to the classroom and the study, where he could focus on his students and his scholarship.

Del enjoyed his family, his neighborhood, his university and his community—making them all better by his quiet observation and informed action. When you encountered him, you felt his warm regard: He wanted to know more about you, rather than wanting you to know more about him. He told me on a number of occasions about his grandfather’s weekly newspaper in Lone Pine, OK, opening our conversation on my turf rather than his. I could see how well that trait would resonate in the classroom and in conferences with students, as well as interactions at the highest levels of the university, where his qualities and abilities inevitably took him. 

Advice from Woody Guthrie

Do you know Hawk Proof Rooster? They are Nancy and Charlie Hartness, an “old-time string band” and two of the nicest, friendliest, funniest people in this town that is filled with their ilk. Look ‘em up at When we finally get back to the point where they can venture off their screened porch, Hawk Proof Rooster is available to play and sing for your event and your pleasure.

Earlier, Charlie and Nancy sent us a New Year’s card printed with Woody Guthrie’s 1943 list of his New Year’s resolutions. Old Woody may have been a dreamer and a rambler, but he sure did leave us some sensible, practical and down-to-earth advice—as relevant now as it was then:

1. Work more and better 

2. Work by a schedule 

3. Wash teeth if any 

4. Shave 

5. Take bath 

6. Eat good—fruit-vegetables-milk 

7. Drink very scant if any 

8. Write a song a day 

9. Wear clean clothes—look good 

10. Shine shoes 

11. Change socks 

12. Change bed clothes often 

13. Read lots good books

14. Listen to radio a lot 

15. Learn people better 

16. Keep rancho clean 

17. Don’t get lonesome 

18. Stay glad 

19. Keep hoping machine running 

20. Dream good

21. Bank all extra money 

22. Save dough 

23. Have company but don’t waste time 

24. Send Mary and kids money 

25. Play and sing good 

26. Dance better 

27. Help win war—beat fascism 

28. Love Mama 

29. Love Papa 

30. Love Pete [sic] 

31. Love everybody 

32. Make up your mind 

33. Wake up and fight.