Dave was a classmate of mine at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in 1962-63 and went on to teach in the Rabaul area before returning to Australia in about 1966 (apologies for the vagueness, I'm in Queensland and without records).
He got more degrees and worked as a school counsellor around Sydney for many years before purchasing a taxi licence. Cab driving may not seem every professional’s cup of tea but Dave loved it. The passing parade of passengers and conversations was a source of almost unmitigated delight.
It could have been a sad day when ill health finally forced him to give the cabbing game away about 18 months ago. But there was always the Berowra ukelele band....
I last spoke with Dave eight days ago. He was in hospital, he knew he was dying and we had two conversations.
The first was short. He'd been allowed to leave his hospital bed for a couple of hours to see his grandson play football. The boy scored five goals and Dave was pleased to have seen that. He said he couldn’t talk for long and said goodbye.
A minute later he rang back, saying he didn’t want us to end on that sombre and abbreviated note.
He said he’d had a good life, that he felt happy. He was surrounded by the family he loved and he told me he was not afraid of death.
We talked politics – like we always did – and Dave puzzled over the desiccated state of the Labor Party, to which he had a lifelong commitment, knowing he would not live to see it in any other condition.
His mouth badly ulcerated, Dave found it difficult to talk, but talk we did. He apologised for not wanting any of us to join him at the hospital, but he said he wanted us to remember him as he was.
A man for all seasons - good for them all. Benign or malign. A little regret but not a trace of self pity.
Then we said a final farewell.
A man constantly delighted by his fellow humans (bullies, thugs and Liberals excepted) and generous in spirit to the many people who came his way.
Dave leaves behind Elissa - a beautiful, calm and courageous woman, his sons Jack and Pete, and other family members.
A celebration of Dave’s life will be held at the Uniting Church, 6 Alan Road, Berowra Heights in Sydney at noon on Wednesday 2 May.