The Delaware Valley Branch sadly announces the passing of yet another of our founding members, David Coghlan. David and his wife, Carolyn, were active Branch members for decades. They had been part of that small group of friends who danced at the McNair home in Swarthmore, before we became a Branch. David was there, voting “aye” when the decision was made to become part of the RSCDS. He and Carolyn were fixtures at social dances as well as the hallmark parties held in dancers’ homes.
When problems with the floor at Swarthmore Friends Meeting (where we’ve just resumed dancing there this fall!) became too much back in the late 70’s, the Branch was lucky to find a home at the Tanguy Community Center near West Chester. For several decades we danced there and the Dave and Carolyn were the site coordinators for many years. They faithfully made sure that the door was unlocked, the heat turned on and that we had plenty of supplies for tea. Even on nights when only a handful showed up, the Coghlans never failed to be there!
The first Branch treasurer was Eleanor Echlemeyer. She served so long that we stopped having elections, even when her term was up. She just kept serving, but when Eleanor finally stepped down, there was momentary panic. People wondered who would fill those big shoes. David Coghlan stepped in and did a stalwart job for this key transitional time. He was meticulous and very thorough.
During the years when Dave and Carolyn’s daughter, Lisa, was a youngster, she attended social dances and I can remember her in her sleeping bag, sound asleep, under the phonograph table at Tanguy with the music blaring directly above her.
David continued dancing until just a few years ago, and even returned to one of the last Tanguy socials shortly after having had open-heart surgery.
I will long carry two special memories of David. After each dance ended at parties and balls, in that split second interval between the end of the chord at a dance’s conclusion and the beginning of the applause, one could always hear Dave give out a hearty “Whoooooo!” of both appreciation and enthusiasm. In Scotland, this is known as “chooking” (hooking). Dave’s cheery whoop was a reminder of his great love for the dance and the music.
My other special memory of Dave is how he always noticed newcomers at social dances. He would slide quietly up to someone he thought might know and ask, “What’s that young lady’s name?” Having learned the name, Dave always went up to introduce himself and invariably asked newcomers to dance (only the women—he was most particular about that!). But Dave welcomed new men and women alike!
Even when Dave and Carolyn went out for dinner at the Yacht Club, which they often did, they always found their way to social dances and were usually one of the last couples to leave.