Saying so long to dedicated city volunteer

Posted on 18 Jan 2007 at 5:53pm

Longtime Oak Lawn resident heads home to New York

When I ran into Oak Lawn community activist P.D. Sterling this week at the corner coffee shop, he was doing what he likes least loafing.


David Webb, The Rare Reporter

Sterling had vacated his Oak Lawn apartment and home office that morning so a group of women he had contracted with could price all of his belongings for a sale this weekend.

The 30-year Dallas resident is returning home to North Syracuse, N.Y., immediately after the sale to live with his elderly parents.

Sterling said his departure from Dallas is a matter of “practicality and family values.”

“My life is very much controlled by understanding what is going on,” said Sterling, who is best known for his seemingly obsessive volunteer work for the Friends of the Oak Lawn Library, the Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders crime watch group and the Oak Lawn Committee.

“I don’t have to like it, but if I understand, it’s OK.”

Turning 60 this year has caused him to realize he needs to pursue a new path to ensure his financial well being and to be able to fulfill his responsibility to his parents, said Sterling, who has been self-employed as a business and political consultant for 15 years. For the 15 years prior to that he was an accountant for an oil company before he found himself unemployed during a “reduction in work force” by the company.

“When I had a corporate job I used to tell my mother that if they needed my help, they would have to come to me,” Sterling said. “Circumstances have changed.”

Sterling said he tried to find a new corporate job this year, but he was unsuccessful. In fact, he managed to get an interview with only one company, even though he approached two employment agencies and sent out hundreds of resumes, he said.

Sterling said he’s not happy about leaving Dallas, but he’s resigned to the necessity of it. He reached the conclusion about two weeks ago after realizing that his financial situation was becoming more difficult, he said.

“It’s going to work out,” Sterling said. “It’s going to mean less stress in my life.”

Sterling said he is glad that someone else is going through all of his belongings at his apartment near the Oak Lawn Kroger store at 4205 Hall St. to do the pricing because he fears he would spend too much time thinking about every item. The sale items will include political souvenirs, most notably a collection of “vintage Don Hill for Mayor T-shirts,” he said.

While he was drinking coffee and chatting, a longtime friend of his stopped by the table to mention he had heard he was leaving.

“How did you know that?” Sterling asked.

Word was getting around, the friend told him. It doesn’t take long for news to travel when a well-known member of the community pulls up stakes.

“I hate to see him go,” said Fred Mosconi. “He’s done a lot for the community.”

Sterling said he divides his three decades in Dallas into three periods. The 1970s were devoted to sex, the 1980s were devoted to religon [he attended and volunteered for the Metropolitan Community Church] and the 1990s marked a deep devotion to political activity, he said.

He begrudingly acknowledges he’s had an impact on Dallas, and that he’s leaving quite a few friends behind.

“But there’ll be a lot of people who won’t be sad,” Sterling said.

Sterling said he doesn’t view his upcoming move as momentous, but he mentioned he looks forward to watching the ducks and geese flying over Lake Ontario near his parent’s home.

“It’s not exciting,” Sterling said. “It’s just a thing. Everyone has their own way of handling things.”

And now Dallas’ LGBT community must say good-bye to a tireless volunteer and figure out how to handle that loss.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 19, 2007

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