Virgil Dalton

Virgil Dalton

Photo by Al Stroh

With the passing of Virgil Dalton on March 4th, 2001, the San Diego Kite Club lost one of its founding members. Virgil was also one of our most popular members. He was known for his kitemaking abilities,his sound advice on kiting and other matters, his good cheer, and his bad jokes. His daily absence at the kite field will be felt for a long time to come.




In Memory Of Virgil Dalton

by Kathy Aggers

His gnarled, knobby hands clap together along with a shout of encouragement. The kite tips and wobbles aloft. The youngster on the other end of the string flails and stumbles backwards, a look of sheer delight on his face as at last the kite has taken to the air.

His hatted head tilts back, an experienced eye on the stuttering movements of the kite. The old-timer hollers more words of encouragement into the breeze. The child regains control and stands firmly in one place. With a face swallowing grin the oldster waves and walks back to his camp chair. Adjusting his suspenders he plunks down, leaning back to watch as the kite slowly becomes less awkward in flight. “That’s what it’s all about,” he says tilting his head in the direction of the field.

“Not just competition, just pure flying ’cause it feels good. Don’t get me wrong,” he adds glancing over at me, “there is a time for that too, but most of all it’s got to be fun.”

Weather worn and wrinkled, his eyes are bright and sparkle with pleasure as the boy on the field whoops in triumph as he executes a new trick. Suddenly the kite crashes. “I’ll get it Virgil.” Another boy trots out to untangle and put the kite right. Virgil waves at the crestfallen pilot. “Life is like that” he says tipping back in the chair, crossing his legs. “Ups and downs.” The kite bounds into the air eager to dance again. He grunts as the kite cruises a bit too close for safety. He gestures the flyer to back up. “If you’re lucky it’s more ups than downs.”

He chuckles and reaches into a carry-all and pulls out a brown paper bag. I grin. A coveted raffle item is in that bag. A windsock, not just any windsock, but hand sewn ‘Virgil’ windsock. Since I had joined the club, the monthly raffles had been a source of joy and disappointment for my daughter and I. I had to get one of those sought-after wind toys. Who truly knows why they became so popular. Perhaps it was because it was made by one of the oldest charter members of the San Diego Kite Club, or that he was one of the friendliest people on the kite field and that people loved him, that made them worth owning.

I’ll miss Virgil, bit I have my memories and the windsock his gnarled knobby hands hadRon's Virgil Windsock sewn so patiently. Now when I see a newbie’s kite floundering about on the ground or stuttering through the air, then finally smoothing out I’ll hear Virgil’s voice calling out encouragement, hands clapping and that, life is like that.

I did eventually become the proud owner of a ‘Virgil’ windsock. Not that day, but months later, a black, green, and yellow striped one. It hangs now in my memorial corner along with the photos and news article that eulogies my best friend who passed away from AIDS. Yes, Virgil has also passed from this life, after a brief battle with an ailing body.