I first met Dave back in the early 80s when I joined the Beverly Country Club and ended up on his team in a four man event. He was our "Captain" and he lived up to it. Even though whatever that team didn't achieve has long since slipped from my memory, I will never forget an incident that happened on the ninth green.
Dave had a putt to tap in which would have kept our team at par for that hole. The putt was literally less than an inch long. One of those that "hung on the lip" for birdie and caused groans as the rest of us turned and left the green while Dave was left the task of pushing the par putt the last few millimeters into the hole as a formality.
But as I slowed down to let Dave catch up so we could walk together through the tunnel under eighty seventh street and past the clubhouse to the tenth tee, I caught a look on his face that seemed odd to me. Dave said, "I missed it." At first I didn't grasp what he meant, thinking he was talking about the birdie putt. Then Dave said, "we made five, I got careless and I whiffed the tap in."
Absolutely no one in the world except Dave knew that. It was then that I knew I had just met a man of true integrity. He wasn't the world's first honest man and he won't be the last, but no matter what the temptation to keep quiet might have been for some people, I could tell it never occurred to Dave for even a millisecond. It just wasn't in his nature.
I later learned that it was his whole philosophy of life to take the consequences of life and move on. He believed in individual liberty and personal responsibility in all things, big and small, everywhere and always. I admired him greatly and even though as the years rolled by and I moved along from that club and only saw him occasionally at events held by the Cato Institute (where he was an original board member) and the Heartland Institute (where he was the founder), I never forgot that incident or his example of leadership.
I don't know much about the rest of his personal life except what I read or what was told to me about him, but that one personal snapshot was all I actually needed to know.
As far as his public life was concerned, I believe that more people have have been converted (or restored) to the ideals of liberty and freedom by his individual efforts than any other person I have been personally acquainted with. As a true American patriot, the man was a giant. And as a fellow human being, he should be a role model to us all.
A memorial to Dave's life from the Heartland Institute follows.
“Dave Padden was one
of those rare individuals who truly changed the
world. The organizations he helped create and financed have changed
public policies on subjects as diverse as environmental protection, ethics, health care, and taxes, in every case expanding individual liberty and limiting the power of government. Without Dave Padden, America today would be less prosperous and less free."
- Joseph Bast, president, The Heartland Institute