Dwight Farmer was a musician, church leader and filmmaker; an inspirational speaker based at the River Church in the Barn in Ohio, whose testimonial videos were seen worldwide—also the cinematographer credited with the 2017 film The Paper Warrior.
Before all that, Dwight was a guitarist who hailed from Alexandria, Indiana—just a proverbial hop, skip and a jump from where my dad grew up in nearby Summitville, also the site of my first full-time journalism job, at the Alexandria Times-Tribune. He performed in a number of rock bands throughout the Midwest—and, at times, his musical talents took him on the road to places as exotic as Georgia and right here in Florida! He was also a model and dancer, which should come as no surprise to anyone who sees the photo of him.
During my time as a journalism major at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., I attended a number of classes with a young lady who soon would become a dear friend. Aside from being kind, funny and cool, Karen was the band photographer for Space Cowboys; a band in which Dwight—at that point known by the stage name of Dante Lee—performed as lead guitarist.
Soon I tagged along with Karen as I attended my first ever concert—well, with the exception of the amazing “Duran Duran” show my sister took me to when I was 15, the one to which I wore some lamentable leopard print pants and an inordinate amount of hairspray, the requisite flute recital I attended as a freshman year music appreciation student, plus the Oak Ridge Boys concerts that my parents and I attended throughout my teen years—hey, my dad was a big fan and, all things considered, they are a pretty good group.
But Space Cowboys? Wow, this was a whole other ballgame. My ears flew wide as I heard their pounding but soulful rock rhythms, my eyes flew wider still as I beheld the striking blue-eyed, raven-haired guitarist who proved the melodic backbone of the band.
College-age me was smitten, particularly when he saw fit to pose for a photo with me after his show and grace me with a kiss on the cheek in the process. Swoon City, right ladies?! Well you can bet I was a regular at just about every Space Cowboys show from that point forward, scoring several more kisses on the cheek in the process—and on one momentous evening, after he forgot to give me said kiss (a travesty), I made it a point to bring Hershey’s Kisses to the next show, to serve as a helpful reminder.
Throughout the months that I knew Dwight, we talked and laughed about everything from the music scene to life in Indiana. On one memorable evening he reached down from the stage mid-guitar solo and patted my head—pretty much mussing up the spiral perm I’d procured that day. He was the only human being who could do that and live to tell the tale. At the last show I attended, when I brought him some photos taken in Alexandria as a part of a photography class project, he gave me a big hug and said, “You’re so sweet. Thank you, baby doll.”
That was the last time I ever saw Dante/Dwight. Bands break up, fans graduate college and move out of the Midwest, life goes on. Through the years, I checked in on him from time to time; enjoying both his music videos (he and his band V.V. Smith enjoyed a minor country hit with the song “Roustabout”) and his filmed religious testimonials, that recounted his new life as a husband, father and born again Christian. Sure my heart broke a little when I finally accepted the fact that I’d never be Megan Hussey Farmer or Megan Leigh Lee (a potential moniker my friends often chided me about).
But it broke more when, a few days before Christmas, I learned that Dwight Farmer had died in a car accident.
Tears streamed from my eyes as I called my bestie Linda White-Francis to share the news; then visited YouTube to watch a few of Dwight’s vids, plus one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Cold Cold Christmas” by Dana—a song that now has a little extra meaning for me.
Then I took a deep breath and checked my e-mail—where my amazing, valued readers, friends and contacts were waiting to invite me to cover their Yuletide and New Year’s events, or just to talk and hang. I ordered some French toast with extra syrup from the Breakfast Station—comfort food supreme. Slowly and somehow, it was a few days before Christmas again.
They always say, ‘Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot’ this time of year—but Old Acquaintance? Well that’s a whole other story.
Dang it, Dwight, you always were a heartbreaker. Sending you lots of Hershey Kisses up in Heaven, Boo.