Courtney Lewis

Courtney Lewis

If I was solely responsible for choosing Hall of Fame citizens of New Albany, without a doubt Dave Barksdale would be in my top five.

No questions asked, no reservations. He is a stellar human being.

I had the great pleasure of working with him during my time at the City of New Albany on various boards and now I get to call him a friend. If ever I have a question related to the rich history of our City, I call Dave.

The details he has catalogued in his brain about seemingly every beautiful, historic, New Albany home, and often fun facts about their inhabitants, never cease to amaze me. If you didn’t know, he even co-authored a book on the subject that is proudly displayed in my collection of Indiana books.

We see one another about once a week at our neighborhood hitching post, Mickey’s on Vincennes. This week we had one of those conversations that lingers in the back of your mind for a while.

We began talking about the restoration of historic buildings and the impact preserving New Albany’s uniqueness has on its neighborhoods. Some people are of the mindset that if something is old, it no longer serves a purpose. Tear it down and make it new.

In some cases, I would agree. Dave has devoted his time to proving just the opposite. There is beauty and use for things of the past. Our history has the ability to live and breathe life into a whole new generation when it is maintained and cared for.

I couldn’t tell you what my opinion on historic restoration and preservation was before Barksdale, but I can tell you that now, because of him, I too see nothing but beauty and purpose in the restoration of historic homes and buildings. I have also learned the difference between old and historic, which is apparently a very important distinction to make.

Talking with Dave I came to realize that our essential function is to steward the gifts and responsibilities we are lent in this life. From the largest burdens to the smallest blessings, we are merely borrowing them while we’re here and left to our own devices in caring for them.

Our pets, our children, our creative abilities, our jobs, even the homes in which we dwell, we are just holding on to them for now. We are responsible for keeping them alive and well while they are in our possession. Whether you believe in God, or the universe or nothing at all, what we have came from somewhere and it will (hopefully) be here well after we’ve moved on to the good place.

Whether you work in the public or private world, the work we are doing now isn’t always for today or tomorrow. We’re planting seeds, watering and weeding and having faith that after time the trees will bear fruit. And just maybe if we are good farmers the next generation won’t have such a tough field to plow.

I hope that I will always remember that conversation with Dave. In an effort to be more intentional in professional and personal lives I am going to keep Dave Barksdale in the back of my mind reminding me that when we care for things and are good stewards of our gifts, whatever they may be, they can last for lifetimes.

Courtney Lewis is a Southern Indiana resident who works for the New Albany Housing Authority.

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