Ashton Grad Pens Book
Norbert W. Dunkel grew up in Forreston. Like so many children he played sports, was on safety patrol, and rode his bike everywhere. To make extra money he would mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow, and with his brother and sister, managed two paper routes. Everybody in Forreston knew one another, they worked with each other and they socialized together.
It was on one of these paper routes where Norb met Don and Evelyn Fager. As an 11 year-old he was scared to meet Don Fager. He had heard stories of someone living upstairs in a house who was in a wheelchair and Norb had never been around anyone in a wheelchair. One week when Norb was collecting for the paper, Evelyn had Norb come into their upstairs apartment on South 5th Avenue and meet Don.
“…I looked in, and there, sitting in the wheelchair, was this man with one of the biggest grins on his face that I had ever seen. He was wearing a while T-shirt, khaki-colored pants, and white tennis shoes. His hair was slicked back. He said, “Hi, I am Don!” I said, “Hi, I am Norb. I deliver your paper.” That was Don Fager and I was immediately at ease.”
Norb was asked if he would sit with Don for two hours on Saturdays so Evelyn could go to the grocery store and laundry mat. Norb had no idea of the life’s lessons he would learn from Don.
Don had multiple sclerosis and could not move from the neck down, but he answered all Forreston’s 911 calls. Don needed someone to hold the phone to his ear and take notes for the fire and ambulance services. For two years, that person was Norb.
Don and Evelyn were Forreston’s couple. Forreston citizens ensured that Don and Evelyn always had fresh fruit, vegetables, canned goods, meat and on Christmas, a Christmas tree with ornaments. Forreston always took care of the Fagers because Don and Evelyn took care of the emergency calls.
When Norb was a junior in high school, his father, Norb Sr. was transferred to the Crest Foods facility in Ashton. Norb graduated from Ashton in 1975.
Norb took the lessons he learned while assisting the Fager family and has applied them throughout his life. He recently completed a book entitled “Don’s Strength” which reflects on his time learning those life lessons with Don Fager.
Norb, now retired, is the former Associate Vice President and COO of Student Affairs at the University of Florida. Norb has authored or edited over 20 books and 40 journal articles. He has twice testified before U.S. Congressional Committees in Washington, D.C. He founded the Student Housing Training Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa and the National Housing Training Institute in the United States, just celebrating its 25th anniversary.
He lives in Gainesville, Florida with his wife, Kim, and they have one son, Nicholas, who works at the University of Florida.
You can purchase a personalized copy of his book, “Don’s Strength,” by emailing Norb at [email protected].