Dave and Diane Wilson rolled into Gallatin 10 years ago and Gallatin rolled out the welcome mat. It was a magic carpet, in a way. The Wilsons would not have gotten involved with their many projects if they had not been invited by the community and found acceptance.
“That was the magic,” said Dave.
Ten years later they are ready to roll out, and say, “We hope we left a nice footprint.”
The Wilsons are former owners of the Sandman Motel. Diane landscaped the lawn outside and designed the rooms. Dave did the woodworking and maintenance. The Wilsons are accustomed to sharing duties, so when Diane became a member and secretary of the Rotary Club, but was needed back at the motel, she and Dave simply switched places. Dave took over membership at Rotary and helped with maintenance projects. They received the Paul Harris Fellowship together for their 10 years of service.
Sharing duties and working together — that’s the key to progress. And when Dave and Diane got to see that sort of cooperation happening around them… “That was our pay.”
Like the time the new dome was placed on top of the county courthouse. The community supported the project; and the city and county combined resources to help GARA members complete the task.
Dave is a member of the theatre league and the fine arts council and played an integral role in the Highway 6 project. He just likes helping people, he says, and he goes where he is needed.
The Wilsons have been instrumental in the development of the Comstock building, located near the senior center, the oldest building in Gallatin. The Comstock building was the only building left standing after a fire in 1914 destroyed the Townsend Block. The building was donated to the Gallatin Area Revitalization Alliance (GARA) by Lester and Joyce Bartlett and family.
The facade was rebuilt, re-glassed and painted. The inside had some roof and floor work done. The building has served as the workroom hub of most of the GARA projects.
“We’ve used it to its best advantage,” said Dave. “It hasn’t just been sitting there.”
Dave hopes one day the building will be turned into a gallery and given back to the community.
GARA’s other projects include the 45 star flag in the shadow box in the courthouse; the Seth Thomas clock display at the courthouse; and the time capsule, to name only a few. The GARA has acquired an easement on the location of the James Boys robbery of the Savings and Loan.
“The community should focus on magnifying the existing history still hidden in Gallatin,” said Dave. He points out the display of the unique Seth Thom- as clock in the north entrance of the courthouse as drawing attention to an interesting bit of local history, which visitors can see and enjoy. “Otherwise people pass through town and don’t know the clock tower is here. For that matter, there are people who have lived here all their lives and don’t know about it.”
The Wilsons sum up their work ethic as follows: “Do the dos and don’t do the don’ts. Life is easier, less complicated. Once people start managing and get crazy, that’s when it turns on you. Show up. Do what you can.”
They also believe in doing one thing at a time.
“It’s better to just say, we’ll do this, then that,” said Dave. “It’s not a new concept. Do one thing instead of bundling stuff together.”
In leaving, they wish to bid the community a thank-you.
“We are grateful for everybody’s participation,” said Dave. “Every business, every individual, whether time, money or labor, if we tried to make a list of names of people to thank, it would go on and on.”
They are moving on because of Dave’s health. It’s the humidity. He’s to where he has to spend the summer indoors.
“Change is the bumpiest part of the journey,” said Diane. “It’s hard to leave. Leaving was not in our plan. But life happens. You have to follow the direction you’re given. We have made life-long connections here that distance won’t change. The heart of the relationship built here will go on, how can it not?”
They have bought 5½ acres in Mackay, Idaho. The house needs some attention, which is right up Dave’s alley. It is a historical area. There are beau- tiful mountains, lots of wildlife, camping and hiking trails. They have a trout stream running past their house.
They will be closer to their children. They have three sons. One lives in Santa Barbara, Calif.; two live in Mesa, near Phoenix, Ariz.
“It will be a nice place to settle down,” said Dave.
Mackay has an almost identical layout to Gallatin, only it’s smaller. The town has about 600 people. It’s a 20- to 25-minute drive to a bigger town, an hour drive to a larger city, which is Idaho Falls.
“We’re anxious to get there, but sad to leave,” said Diane.“We’ve had such a great trip here. Now we’ll move on. See what’s next. We get a little tearful saying our goodbyes. It wouldn’t be that way if it hadn’t been a heart-to-heart relationship.”
The Wilsons say in all their time in Gallatin, there’s just been one bad day. “That’s June 1, 2008,” Dave said. “That’s the day we leave.”