An icon of Dallas running, he talks non-stop with an occasional grunt to clear his throat. His legs are as stiff as wooden 2 x 4’s, and his back has that slight runner’s curve as he makes his way around the largest inner city lake in the world, one more time. With his thick salt and pepper hair, David Dozier is known to most runners at White Rock Lake as…
“The Mayor of White Rock.”
He’s not known for his speed, necessarily. Though he’s posted a 3 hour, and 15 minute marathon and run a 10K in 39 minutes, 16 seconds at his best, David wants to make it clear he is not an elite runner. “Now, I’m not fast. I want you to understand that!”
What makes DAVE DOZIER an icon is his popularity around White Rock Lake and at the Dallas White Rock Marathon. This coming December will be his 27th consecutive White Rock Marathon. He says JOSE CASTRO will break his record. (RIO KING has done 30 White Rock Marathons, but they may not be consecutive. “I’m second; that’s good.”)
Whether running, or in person in his office (the Dozier Company, an advertising, public relations, and marketing firm for over 46 years where he works with three of his kids), Dave’s conversations resemble a type of tennis match with him usually throwing the first volley of yells, false accusations, or outlandish remarks. And then he waits for the return. He admits he likes to tease people during his training runs. It’s one of his favorite moments. “David talks very loud,” LAURA KAY HOYLE, or KADY, says, one of his longtime running friends. “It’s David’s show. He’s always the brash one. You may want to ring his neck, but you’re never bored.”
But when he’s racing, he’s all business, concentrating on the race and his competitors. “I have to be serious at work all the time. This is the one time I don’t have to be.”
By his estimates, the gregarious 68 year old has helped over 150 people do their first marathon, and almost always it’s The Dallas White Rock Marathon. “Anytime I hear someone says they’re training for their first marathon, I invite them to join my group. I take all the fear and guess work out of it.” He compares himself with former pro marathoner Jeff Galloway of the Galloway training groups. “I’ve never had a failure, reference Galloway’s 98% finishers.”
David can be spotted most days of the week circling the lake like a vulture in need of some fresh meat in the form of a new runner to the area, or maybe a new visitor to the lake. “Every day is something different. I’m going to see something funny, meet someone different.”
He runs with a bevy of women; sometimes a few men, but not always. JENNIFER ROUSSEAU, HOYLE, ERIC CHORLEY, JOE GASPARI, JACK WOODELL, JEFF FLUSCHE, JIM RYAN, GLORIA CASTELLO, and MILLIE WINSTON are a few. These are his “groupies” as he calls them, people he has helped around the lake or through a marathon. It’s because of them he doesn’t have a problem getting out the door to train. “There are anywhere from three to 20 runners right outside my door waiting for me, my group. So I have to go!”
According to his logs, he has run about 7500 laps around the lake since 1972. Some weeks show he ran all seven days around the 9+ mile lake. But those times are saved for when David’s training for a marathon. Usually, he runs seven days a week with a 30 mile bike ride thrown in somewhere. “White Rock is the best place to run in the nation – Phoenix, Boston, Washington, D.C., Portland – without exception because it’s contained, safe; it is its own little community. You see the same people all the time.” Even before he began running, David loved White Rock Lake so much, he moved there to be closer to it.
At work, his walls look like a runner’s museum covered with numbers and photos. There’s one of a very fit JOE TORRES, The God Father of White Rock Lake, doing his first marathon after David practically dragged Torres out of the cab he was driving.
“David’s cool,” Torres says. “He inspired me by saying I would never run under 3 hours [in a marathon]. I went 2:57. I want to be like Dave!” Torres has spent many years listening, joking, and running with David. “He’s a taste you gotta acquire. I love him to death. He’s helped out a lot of people to run.” Together, they’ve run 10-12 marathons along side each other. “He’s the backbone of White Rock Lake running. Without him, you wouldn’t have the fun. Back in the early ‘80s, when there were all these serious runners, he was with a bunch of drinking, and yelling buddies. DEBBIE TOMKOWITZ, AMY KEENE; he used to play with them all.” But Torres says, he wouldn’t mess with FRANCIE LARREAU or MARY KNISELY, two elite Olympic runners from Dallas.
He used to mess with Mary’s husband, however, DAN KNISELY “because his wife Mary would beat him! You can recognize David by his tube socks. It’s those sweat pants and those tube socks!”
Torres tells many stories of David. In one, David’s passing out at the Boston Marathon finishing line, while Torres grabs a girl. Dave hits the pavement and goes to the medical tent. “He’s never forgotten me on that one,” Torres says. In another, he’s crawling to the Boston finish line, embarrassing Torres. But apparently the flexible cartoon character Gumby beat them in Boston in ’93. “A guy dressed in full costume. At the start line, Dozier said he was going to beat this guy, kick his butt. He was fast. We both ran 3:20’s. But, Gumby was at the finish line making fun of us.” In yet another story, David sees two older ladies at White Rock Lake walking a dog and asked, “Which is the dog?” “That’s Dozier. He’s got a silver tongue,” Torres says, laughing out loud. “He’s a character. He’s the DON RICKLES of the lake. He’s old school sarcastic; negative way in a positive way. They say he ran with MOSES with the first 10K of the Red Sea Run.” There are stories of David running with KEN COOPER of Aerobics fame, the 80 year old DICK GRANGER, KARO JOHNSON, and NANCY GROSS [later SCHLOSSER].
Other pictures on David’s “wall of fame” at work show CORBY DAVIDSON of the radio program, The Ticket, FATHER STEPHEN BIERSCHENK, and PATTY SULLIVAN.
He talks the talk and walks the walk. And he “expects” you to, too. With no way out, he will personally drag you out to the lake and hold your hand just to get you going if that’s what it takes. His hidden agenda is to get others active, off their butts, and to experience… drum roll please… “The Marathon.”
Dave has done the distance (26.2 miles) 134 times. The hardest marathon he has ever raced was Big Sur in 1977 where he finished in 4:07. There were 60 MPH winds “with one hill. The whole course,” he laughs. His easiest marathon was the 1991 St. George, with a 3:32 finish.
David was born into the Pueblo Indian Tribe, December 4, 1938 in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and grew up on the Santa Clara Indian Reservation. He’s very proud of his Indian heritage. He had one sister. His parents sold farm implements after they moved to the Texas valley when David was 10 years old. The Pueblo Tribe is famous for its black pottery. One of David’s aunts, Maria Tafoya, is a famous potter. Growing up, David was outgoing and loved sports. He enjoyed watching and playing team sports. “It was all I thought about.” He also enjoyed trout fishing. He had no fears growing up. His idols were football player Doak Walker, Cleveland Indians Short Stop Lou Boudreau, and boxer Rocky Marciano.
Eventually, the Dozier family moved to Pharr, Texas, a suburb of McAllen five miles from the Mexico border, where he graduated from high school. Then he graduated from the University of Dallas in 1960. He married his wife, DIANNE, in June of that same year.
Influenced by Dallas runners ULY VLAMIDES, 79, (at the 2000 YMCA Turkey Trot, Uly ran for fourth in age group – 70 and Over, 1:46:45), and friends JOHN HALE and BOB MORRISON, Dozier credits Vlamides with training him for his first White Rock Marathon in 1980. “He taught me to run,” Dave says. “He ran with me every day for seven or eight years. I never forgot what he did for me.”
All three used to run together in the early 80’s. Morrison stopped running in 1991. Once on a whim, they decided to run from the Dallas Convention Center to Ft. Worth Convention Center. It was summer. When they arrived, there was a beauty pageant going on and Morrison got a kiss from one of the contestants for running so far. But they hadn’t planned how to get back to Dallas. Once a year, the trio did an informal run they called the “Melissa 4-0,” running from Melissa, Texas to White Rock Lake along old Texas Highway 5. Instead of that route, one year, others in tow, they decided to do five loops of White Rock Lake. It was all just for fun. “It was strange,” says Hoyle, who has run the most years and miles of any of David’s partners. “We knew what we had decided to do.” David has also done at least two Chicago ultra-marathons, as well.
In 2000, he ran the Inaugural Texas Marathon Challenge, where one had to run five specific marathons between November 2000 and February 2001. David is pictured on his wall, on a staircase of approximately 20 green jacket wearing skinny guys, smiling ear to ear. GREG FLOYD won that first year. “Everyone has a two syllable name when he’s yelling at you,” Greg laughingly says of David. “He really leans into his runs. The only reason he runs is, if he doesn’t, he’ll fall over. Him and Joe Torres are out there ‘ev-er-y’ single day. You know why women run with him? He’s a lot safer than us.”
When Hoyle met David in 1982, she was only walking, but was encouraged by mutual friend MARY MCINTOSH. Hoyle was worried she was too slow, but was quickly told, “We’re all slow!” At the time David was also walking due to back problems. But there was the beginning of a group: MARY VLAMIDES (wife of Uly), GENE GILLMAN, and Uly. Hoyle was immediately impressed with Mary Vlamides who had run eight marathons at the time. Hoyle has since done 25 White Rock Marathons, all with David, and has lost count of all the others.
David began running competitively, while Hoyle only ran on the weekends, but soon added in runs during the week. “He was a real strong foundation for me. But we don’t tell people that because if someone thought David was a sensitive, caring person, they wouldn’t know what to do.” Her snickering isn’t lost on the listener. Hoyle enjoyed her runs with David. “We had things in common. Even when he’s outrageous, you knew he was doing it with self deprecating manner.” His dedication to his family impressed Hoyle. “Every out-of-town marathon he goes to, Dianne goes with him,” even though Dianne does not run. David concurs: “Every race I’ve done, my wife has been there for me.”
Hoyle continues. “We’re in her kitchen every Saturday and Sunday morning. Unless it’s pouring down rain, he’ll be ready to run.” He is incredibly loyal to his family, his friends, and his sport. After a bad spot in her life, Hoyle says, Dave and Dianne “were the couple that said, ‘Come to my house. Come to my church. Meet my friends.’” Nowadays, they are church ushers together. “He’s the older brother you never wished for,” Hoyle says.
After so many years of running together, they must have had disagreements. “Oh, yeah,” Hoyle says with a sigh, matter of factly. “Of course, he was always wrong.” Everyone else, she says, either gave it up or moved away. “I don’t know if he’s just a negative person or a jaded realist. You don’t have to agree with everything he says or does. Unless you’ve got a thick skin and a quick wit, you can’t run with us.”
Those who run with Dave enjoy it despite his out bursts, kidding, and what first appears to be quirky behavior. People enjoy running with David and his group, however, because they all have a real passion and love for running. This is play time to them.
David’s hero’s nowadays include “people who keep in shape,” such as BOB HANCOCK, BOB LUSCINGER,CHUCK DANNIS, DEBBIE HUMPHRIES, JAMES THURSTON, and MARCUS GRUNEWALD, he names. But admires “all Dallas runners.”
David began running after his own eight year old son beat him in a mile race. “I couldn’t believe it!” he says. That sent David a signal, loud and clear, he was out of shape. It motivated him to make sure he didn’t lose to his son again. And he hasn’t.
His first race was at Six Flags in 1973-74. Then he improved. He once put in over 90 miles a week of training in the early 80’s. His favorite races are the Boston and Dallas White Rock Marathons “because of the aura” he says. He does have other marathons he enjoys, if it’s possible to enjoy 26.2 miles of running. Utah’s St. George, Houston, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Chicago are on the “B” list.
His training is consistent, if not wavering. “I’m a big fan of interval training. I will do a loop [of the lake], then go to the track. BEN CLICK [former Dallas Police Chief] used to tell me, ‘You’re going to hurt yourself!’” David knows he’s ready for his race marathon when he does a 20 miler on Saturday, followed by a 20 miler on Sunday. He credits studying his form with staying injury free. “I have great knees. I use my ankles.” David changes his shoes everyday, going through about six to eight pair per year.
He also loves doing weights, having been a strength coach at the YMCA for many years. “I don’t have time anymore. But he also watches his nutrition, sticking to a diet of red meat, vegetables, and fruit. “I don’t eat any trash!” But, he follows, “I drink a lot of beer. It’s healthy! I never get drunk. The vegetable content helps me recover.”
David was once goaded into doing the Cross Timbers Classic 100 mile bike ride in 1990. A journalist at the end who knew of David’s running exploits asked him which was harder. He said it wasn’t a contest. “Not even close. In fact, I told the man I had to go because I had to go to White Rock Lake to do a loop of the lake.” He has no interest in doing any multi-sport events.
Although he gives Dallas high marks, he does have one suggestion: “MOVE IT BACK TO CITY HALL!” He would like to see the race return to its home start and finish line of over 20 years, Dallas City Hall. Dallas’ support of runners and racing is growing, David says, and its level of competition, strong. He has his sights on St. George, Utah and another DWRM this year. “I want to qualify for Boston again, and keep running.”
As he talks from his office, he holds a file with scraps of paper, newspaper clippings, and Post-It Notes with phone numbers.
Outside of running, David likes spending time with his grandkids and his yard, and can also play almost any tune on the harmonica. Dave has also been the head usher at St. Thomas Quinas Catholic Church for 42 years, where many runners attend, including MELISA CHRISTIAN. “A lot of runners are at my service.” He was a certified athletic trainer with the Downtown YMCA for over 11 years. “I got him the job at the Y,” Torres laughs. “I taught him everything he knows about strength. We needed someone. At the time, it was the Mecca of Downtown running.”
One of the things he is not is a politician, he says. “Bad board member; I work all the time.” But, he has much to be thankful for, he says. “A great business, a great family, and great friends.”
Writer’s note: this is the most bolded names used in a cover story. An indication of Dave’s connection to people.