GRAFTON, Mass. – Dick Dion was certain about two things when the Grafton Land Trust told him they would be naming a trail segment in Williams Woods for him.
He knew just the rock for the placard – and he didn't want the words "in memoriam" to appear anywhere.
"In memoriam is not really the time," Dion joked Sunday at the unveiling of the new Dick Dion Trails.
The spot is located in the Grafton Land Trust's Williams Woods on Brigham Hill Road, conveniently accessible from Dion's own backyard. It's a spot much loved by Dion, a former Grafton selectman and Conservation Commission member who served as the Grafton Land Trust president in the late 1980s and early 2000s.
The outdoors is where Dion feels the most at home – whether it's ice fishing, deer hunting or, as depicted in a photograph displayed in the afternoon's program, emerging from an Alaskan river with a boat full of salmon to be greeted by a pair of Kodiak bears.
"Dick is a great outdoorsman," said longtime friend Joseph Tancrell who, like Dion, is a former Grafton Land Trust president. "He is literally a man for all seasons."
It was his love of the outdoors, Dion said, that kept him motivated after his diagnosis with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cell. In August 2009, he underwent a stem cell transplant, a procedure that usually has patients slowly recovering over the course of three to four months, said Dr. Jacob Laubach, who treated Dion at the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.
Within seven weeks, Laubach recalled, he received an email with a photograph of Dion: dressed in camouflage, standing over a deer.
"I just sent back an email saying, 'Dick, I hope you didn't clean it yourself,'" Laubach said.
A stone bench sits close to the trail marker, a largely flat stone that Dion had eyed for years.
"I always said, if they ever name anything for me, that's my rock," Dion said.