It is with a heavy heart that I find myself reflecting and writing about my friend Shawn Davies, also known as Whyte Eagle. I knew him as Whyte Eagle long before I knew Shawn was his name, as is often the case with monikers from forums, it’s something that has stuck with me so I refer to him as such with no disrespect intended.
The first time I met Whyte Eagle would have been 200 or 2001, not long after I started the Treasures of Utah forum. We met at a small gathering of forum members who were meeting to go see the Dry Fork Sun Face, seems to me we all met up as a JBs over in Spanish Fork or close by. My very first meeting with Whyte Eagle was him explaining that he was starting a forum, similar to my own, and we discussed the endeavor at length. Details are sketchy, that was 15 years ago, but overall I felt like the meeting was his way of letting me know he didn’t want to intrude or step on any toes and in many respects that day shaped how I would see Whyte Eagle throughout my life. He was direct, compassionate, respectful, sensitive, logical and considerate. Nothing in my 15 years of knowing Whyte Eagle ever gave me any reason to suspect any aspect of my initial assessment had been incorrect. The fact that my first meeting with him stands out at all speaks volumes about his character, particularly as he explained his intentions. It would have been easy to feel defensive or intruded upon, but really Whyte Eagle made it clear he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers (pun intended) and hoped the two forums could exist with a common purpose and no hard feelings. I can only speak for myself, but hard feelings towards Whyte Eagle are something I simply cannot imagine.
Whyte Eagle and I shared ideas and comments on our mutual forums and by phone when necessary. Perhaps my fondest memory of Whyte Eagle from this period was the Dry Fork Campout. This is a great bunch of memories, but wonderful and sad, because this it would be the few times I would visit with Paul Tabbee and Richard Scott (Rich TX). This event was for me most noteworthy because Whyte Eagle was my ride there and we had a good time driving up and chatting. It was a good time and I learned a lot more about Whyte Eagle than I had previously known. I learned firsthand though, that Whyte Eagle was someone who thought before he spoke, seldom spoke badly about anyone, was reticent to share too much without properly vetting them, and even then only shared what he was at liberty to share. Whyte Eagle proved himself to be someone of uncommon character and a loyal and kind person as well. These were traits that echoed in every interaction I ever had with him and his tenor and tone in a conversation said as much as any word that came from his mouth. If I had a regret, it’s that I didn’t take note or record this conversation because I have no doubt the things he said that day were as worthwhile as anything anyone has printed on mines or treasure sin Utah in the past 50 years.
Whyte Eagle posted less on the Treasures of Utah over time, which was a setback for the forum but an understandable one. Whyte Eagle was always a wonderfully even-handed and unbiased poster, who could see both sides of a topic while maintaining true to his own positions. It’s part of what made him a good moderator on his own forum and made him a good person to talk to about the duties of managing forums. Whyte Eagle consistently showed himself to be knowledgeable, generous with his time and talents, and who knew how to use his dry sense of humor to deflect anger and harshness and recover a conversation into a meaningful dialogue. He was also an uncommonly modest person who did not boast about his skills or what he knew, but let his knowledge and wisdom speak for itself…which it did so both frequently and undeniably.
I was fortunate…no…I was blessed enough to have visited with Whyte Eagle last month at the Treasures of Utah 15th Anniversary camp out. For me this was a deeply personal event and one I’m so glad he and his wife found time for. Whyte Eagle’s Ancient Historical Research Foundation stood as the blueprint for the type of work I always knew could come from an endeavor like the Treasures of Utah/Ancient Lost Treasures forums and represented the logical step forward from merely posting on forums to developing solid relationships built around mutual respect, the quest for knowledge, and the thoughtful use of time, technology and human talent to further positive goals in the broad realm of Historical research. Whyte eagle showed himself to be honorable, thoughtful and motivating to me personally as he used the AHRF as a vehicle to further not only his own causes, but to those he felt were in line with the work they sought to achieve as well. In this respect, Whyte Eagle supported the Treasures of Utah by frequently providing support for get togethers and encouraged the people he worked with to support us as well. The past two Treasures of Utah events were heavily supported and promoted by members of the AHRF and Whyte Eagle showed his personal support by hosting speaking engagements by myself. These generous endeavors cannot be understated and reflected his giving spirit and loyalty and I am grateful to have had his support. Mostly, because I understand that support represented not just logistics, but a sincere reflection of how he felt about the work I was doing and what his support said to me about his own faith, belief, respect and encouragement in what I was doing. His support spoke volumes, but like so much about him it’s what he didn’t say that resonated the most.
I was fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time at the most recent camp-out talking to Whyte Eagle one on one. We discussed two things and I hope I do him no disservice by briefly touching on both topics. Whyte Eagle was unusually lucid, usually saying little, offering only bits of information that required effort and precise questioning to achieve results. I admired Whyte Eagle who was quiet, soft spoken and whose very cadence and patterns of speech were calming and reflective. He didn’t have to be the center of attention, he didn’t demand the approval or support of others…he gained it naturally by being open minded, thoughtful, respectful and introspective. He could challenge without being condescending but more importantly, he was satisfied with his own awareness and evidences and never in my years of knowing him demonstrated an unhealthy ego.
Whyte Eagle spoke to me at length about one of his pet projects, I think I’ll keep it to myself what it was. But it was an unusual revelation of his hard work, analysis and evidences. And while I fear he might have taken some promising work to the grave, I trust his judgement implicitly about why he had held back and not made this work public. It was an unparalleled (for me anyway) gift of wisdom, insight, hard work and something that was deeply personal and I feel blessed by having him share it with me. We also talked at length about the AHRF and its members, primarily Terry, Utahna and Darby. I confessed that based on my own limited interactions with them (except terry who I had known for as long as Whyte Eagle), that I felt they were an amazing group of people and that if they represented the AHRF that it was an origination with limitless potential. He agreed. I add this last part to express my deepest sympathies to Whyte Eagle’s family particularly his wonderful wife Maria as well as his friends. I say this because Shawn touched me enormously, as I hope I’ve adequately demonstrated, but did so with fairly limited interaction. My heart aches for the loss of my friend, and cannot fathom what loss his passing represents to those who knew him so much better than I did.
Whyte Eagle dedicated his life to understanding the mysteries of the world around him. History, geography, archaeology and the gospel…how they co-existed, how they supported one another and how they existed independently. My heart aches for my loss, and envies Shawn Davies because I know where he is now, so many mysteries have been answered and he has moved onto new challenges and mysteries elsewhere. I apologize for rambling on and lament that nothing I can say truly captures everything I feel. God be with you all in your time of sorrow. My sincerest hope is that the AHRF recovers from their loss and continues to carry out the work Shawn hoped could be completed. Thank you for your time and may God comfort you all in your time of loss and struggle…