‘Welcome home, Dr. Dave’

Six months ago David Warner was unconscious and in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Warner walked unassisted and took part in a drum circle singing Native American folk songs Saturday at a welcome-back gathering. Warner’s friends, family, students, and colleagues celebrated his return to the Pullman community together at the Asian Pacific Cultural House.

“He still loves people,” his mother Cherie Warner said. “That part of him hasn’t changed.”

Warner, a WSU instructor, spent the last few months recovering from the March 30 assault that left him beaten and unconscious at Adams Mall on College Hill. An attempt to stop a fight led to doctors predicting permanent paralysis on his right side.

Today, he walks without assistance.

Cherie said while Warner’s recovery has been remarkable, he still has a long way to go.

“He has the same knowledge. He just has to work hard to retrieve it,” she said.

Donning a baseball cap embroidered with the words NATIVE PRIDE, Warner performed with the Wazzu Singers, a Native American drum group on campus.

“Everything is slowly coming back,” Warner said. “Everything else is here to stay.”

Warner alluded to his faith when he said, “The Creator has blessed me. He said, ‘No, David. You’re here to stay. You still have work to do.’”

Maria Morales, a graduate assistant at the Chicana/o Latina/o Student Center, coordinated the celebration to welcome Warner back. Morales knew Warner as a fellow student in graduate school.

Morales said the drum circle was the first time Warner has performed since the incident that nearly killed him.

“He’s been a mentor and a friend since day one,” she said, “and I think that’s true for everyone here.”

Warner has lived most of his life in the state of Washington. After graduating from Pullman High School, he received an associate’s degree from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho.

The rest of his education took place at WSU, where he received three degrees: a bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in American Studies and a doctorate in American Studies.

Warner’s words at the celebration demonstrated a profound love of teaching and interacting with others. He fought back tears as he thanked those who came to support him.

“I’m so thankful for all of this,” he said. “I’m so happy that I’m still here.”