David was born on May 4, 1938 in Iron Mountain, Michigan. He grew up on the family farm outside of Iron Mountain, and attended Channing High School in the area. He moved on to study physics at Michigan State University, and graduated in 1960 with high honours. From there David went to New York for postgraduate studies at Columbia University, receiving his PhD in Physics in 1968. His studies were interrupted from 1962 to 1963, when David’s father was badly injured in a mine accident. David took a position that year as an instructor at Michigan Technological University to be closer to home. Throughout all the moves in his life, David never forgot his deep roots in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Shortly after returning to Columbia in the fall of 1963, David met Janet through mutual friends. It was a whirlwind romance, as they became engaged on New Year’s Eve that year and were married the following July. The young couple took up residence near Columbia, and David continued his studies while Janet continued with her job in Philadelphia and later her new job closer to home in New York.
After New York came the big move to Vancouver and UBC where David took the position of professor of physics, a position he held for 35 years until his retirement. Their first two children, Eric and Sharon, were born while they were living in their new home, an apartment near the UBC campus. Daughter Diane was born after they took the plunge and bought the house that became the family home. Those were busy years for the family, especially when Janet went back to school full-time for a year in 1978 and David became the chauffeur, cook, Boy Scout parent, daycare parent and still managed to work every day.
After his retirement from UBC in 2003, David continued with an interest he had developed in the last few years of his physics career. He became a part-time travel agent with Renshaw Travel, a second career that he enjoyed very much and which continued for more than 10 years.
David had many other interests – making wine, playing hockey, eating Chinese food, and collecting Volkswagens, to name just a few. The elderly VWs in the back yard and the basement full of wine and wine-making equipment are a testament to these interests. One of David’s most memorable achievements was having founded a Friday hockey group at UBC, which he continued to sponsor for many years even after he was no longer able to play, and which continues to thrive today. David was very proud of his Italian heritage, and succeeded in tracking down relatives in Sesto Calende, the home town of his paternal grandparents in northern Italy. David, Janet and daughter Diane spent a year in the area while David took a sabbatical from UBC to work at Padova University in Italy. David was also very proud of his Swede Finn ancestry on his mother’s side, journeying to that part of the world with his Auntie Helen.
David was a person who enjoyed every minute of his life. He rarely bemoaned the past or worried too much about the future, even after being diagnosed with a challenging neurological illness. He lived as best he could with his limitations, and was a genial host to visitors right to the end. He passed away peacefully at home on August 1, 2019 surrounded by family.
David was a truly unique human being. He will be remembered for his creativity, his ability to think outside the box, and for his ability to make friends with everyone he met. He will be greatly missed by those friends, and by his wife Janet, his children Eric, Sharon and Diane, their spouses and his five granddaughters.