Friday, December 21, 2007

D. Murray Dryden: He was a grandfather and a visionary

D. MURRAY DRYDEN was a man of vision. A grandfather to the world. And even though he died in 2004 at age 92, his dream of providing one million bedkits for needy children could soon become a reality.
In fact, 905,350 bedkits have been distributed throughout the world after his daughter, Judy's recent visit to Bangladesh.
So as I've written before, the dream never dies, just the dreamer.
And Dryden, indeed, was a visionary.
The father of two famous hockey goalies, Ken and Dave, was the head of the all-volunteer Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) organization. However, SCAW didn't die with his demise, but thrives today.
In Feb. 3, 1999, I related the story of Mr. Dryden in World Net Daily. The following is an excerpt:
In the Dirty 30s, to survive, Dryden barnstormed the barren wastes of Saskatchewan, selling silk stockings door to door on commission. That's when he learned, first hand, what it was like to go without a bed.
Even in those days, he was an optimist.
From his 1930 diary, Dryden wrote: "June 23-28. Put in a terrible week. Made less than $10. Slept on the office floor the last couple of nights and only when in dire need. Looks like a tough Dominion Day for me, but there is always a better day coming."
There were other lonely days in the '30s when he dreamed of striking it rich, but all he could record was: "Christmas Day. All alone. How I miss the family. Tired of sitting in, so I went to the Grand and saw Jackie Oakie in Sea Legs. Peculiar I didn't get my parcel from home. Spent evening washing clothes, etc."
By 1932, Dryden had started in business -- Dryden Specialty Company of Hamilton, Ontario -- concentrating on Ever Bloom, a tonic for plants.
His faith and his drive would take a beating, but he didn't bend when Dryden had to write in his June 8, 1932 diary: "Two apples for noon dinner and tried to sell old magazines for my supper."
In 1937, he met his beloved Margaret in Hamilton. On their first date on Feb. 18, he and his future wife attended a hockey game at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Murray's cousin, Syl Apps, starred that night. Later, Dryden would become deeply involved with a number of minor-league baseball and hockey teams in the '50s.
Of course, after the Drydens married in 1938, he spent four years in the YMCA's auxiliary services, including 1 1/2 years overseas. After spending 24 years with five companies as a manufacturer's agent, he retired in 1972.
However, it was only the beginning of his mission in life.
The image of a child lying asleep that he had stumbled over in 1970 on the filthy streets of Pakistan seemed to be ingrained in his heart.
His hobby of photographing sleeping children spurred the retirement project. That's when he and Margaret decided to provide bedkits to 50 homeless kids in India.
The retirement years were particularly special for Murray and Margaret, for in 1970 they began SCAW and started raising monies for bedkits in such underdevloped countries as Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.
After his 15th trip around the world in 1987, a rigorous December trip into the Himalayas, followed by distribution trips to Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador, he wrote: "I know the difference between being poor in Canada and being poor in Bangladesh. Remember that they have no welfare system, no Medicare, and very few charitable organizations in these countries. It is when there is so little hope for people, such as these people in the developing countries, that we must work to improve conditions. The better reason, of course, is that they, too, are God's children."
Working out of Dryden's modest home in the Toronto area, volunteers paid their own fare and took the donations around the world.
Besides being the anchor for SCAW, Dryden, a great humanitarian, wrote such notable books as "With God Nothing Is Impossible," and "For The Love of His Children" and even co-authored a bestseller with the late Jim Hunt of the Toronto Sun, called: "Playing the Shots at Both Ends."
Today, Dave Dryden has become an inspirational leader within the charity while Judy Dryden has just returned from Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Debbie, has become passionate about her grandfather's dream.
When The Missus and I first met the late Mr. Dryden with monies for bedkits, he handed me photos of Central American kids smiling broadly and clutching their beds. Those photos are still my greatest treasures.
(FYI: Sleeping Children, 28 Pinehurst Crescent, Toronto, Ont. Canada M9A3A5 ... ... Phone: 416-231-1841 ... Fax: 416-231-0120 ... Toll-free: 1-866-321-1841).

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