Sunday, February 9, 2014

R.I.P. Norman "Spring1" Dillon

Norman Dillon — known to the geocaching community as one half of "Spring1" — of Danville, VA, passed away on Friday, February 7, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He and his wife, Lynn, have been avid cachers for many years and have cached in all 50 states, as well as in Canada and Europe. They have been fixtures at virtually every geocaching event in the piedmont areas of Virginia and North Carolina, and I can't count how many times I have run into them, just by happenstance, out in the field.

When I hid my first couple of caches in early 2008, in Martinsville, I knew scarcely a living soul who actually participated in this alluring and mysterious sport. One Sunday, shortly after the caches had been published at, my mom and I were driving back to her place after lunch out, and as we were passing the hiding spot, smack in the middle of uptown, I saw several folks at ground zero, clearly on the hunt. "Geocachers!" I cried in stunned disbelief. I headed right over to meet them, and this one very pleasant, slightly older couple introduced themselves to me as Spring1 from Danville. It was the first of what was to be countless meetings with this legendary team. (Apparently, that was on Sunday, April 6, as I made mention of the meeting in the Blog Where Horror Dwells.)

Since they were retired, Norman and Lynn were known for being the first to find newly published caches anywhere in the area — and claiming "doing the FTF dance!" in their online logs. A few years back, I was in Danville when a new cache was published, and, being only a few miles away from it, I rushed over to it, hoping to snag the FTF. When I arrived, much to my surprise, there was Spring1's signature. I had missed them by less than five minutes, and, as it turned out, they hadn't even been in Danville when the cache was published; they had been returning from visiting their daughter, Robin, in Richmond, and the new cache just happened to be on their way. From talking to other cachers, I learned that this kind of thing happened with alarming frequency. To beat Spring1, you really had to be in the right place at the right time.

But what a kind, amiable, selfless couple they proved to be. If you were having trouble finding a cache they had already found or that belonged to them, and you called them for a hint, if you were anywhere close by, they'd just get in their car and come over to help you hunt. When this happened, more often than not, we would spend a couple of minutes sorting out the hide and then another thirty minutes socializing. There was a spell between 2009 and 2012 that I could be virtually anywhere looking for a cache and the chances of running into Norman and Lynn were greater than not running into Norman and Lynn. It was hardly an infrequent thing to be somewhere in another town or state, finding a cache, unrolling the log sheet, and discovering Spring1's signature.

Many, many other geocachers in this region could tell such stories about Spring1. Norman and Lynn have left an indelible mark in the caching community, and beyond, of course. I am so glad that I took the opportunity to visit with them the past couple of months; time can be shorter than one ever realizes. I must again thank Audra "Homestyle" Webb for getting a bunch of cachers together just before Christmas to go caroling at Spring1's place, shortly after we learned Norman was laid up for what would prove to be the last time ("Here We Come A-Caching"). He did reveal then that he wouldn't be getting any better.

There's a memorial service for Norman tonight at Townes Funeral Home in Danville, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. A thoughtful obituary may be found here: In Memory of Norman Frederick Dillon

Norman Dillon is among those folks that I have felt most honored to call a friend. Godspeed, and happy caching in new and distant realms, Mr. Spring1.

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