Dave was the eldest of five brothers. Although he lived his first two decades in Ontario, he became a true Westerner after graduating from Queen's University's engineering program in 1952.
He and a few other newly minted engineers were hired by Shell Oil to help develop the oil fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan. On the train ride to Calgary, they could afford only one cabin with two berths, so the five of them took turns sleeping. Before settling in Calgary, they were sent to Houston for oil-field training. It was this training that helped Dave decide to pursue a career in field operations rather than in the office.
Shortly after arriving in Calgary, Dave met an energetic, attractive nurse named Sheila. She didn't want to get serious right away and moved to Vancouver. Dave visited her when he could, using up all his money. Finally, when he had no more, he asked her to marry him and come back to Calgary. She said yes and they were married in 1955.
For the next 13 years, Dave and Sheila moved to nearly every small oil town in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Often they would just get settled when it was time to plan another move. Their children, Lynn and Jim, clearly remember standing up at the front of a new class nearly every year until the family finally moved back to Calgary for good.
During this time, Dave set up and managed many oil-field operations, including the early development of industry safety standards.
Dave was always physically fit and did daily exercises throughout his life. While at Queen's he became a boxer, competing in the lightweight division. In the early years, he and Sheila played tennis and curled. When his children started skiing, Dave got tired of driving them to the hill and waiting, so he got himself some skis and learned how to ski. This set the stage for annual trips to Aspen, Silver Star and Sun Peaks. He was 79 when he last skied: He was in great form and skied each morning for five days straight.
He also took up hiking, and each summer would lead an excursion or two in the foothills outside Calgary. When he turned 80, he went on a hiking trip to Germany and Switzerland. There were many stories about the "humorous older gentleman from Canada" that came back.
After living in Calgary for nearly 45 years, Dave moved to North Vancouver to be closer to his daughter's family. He chose a suite in his seniors' residence that faced the North Shore mountains and two ski hills. He was looking forward to getting out on the mountain again when the lymphoma claimed him.
Dave will be deeply missed by his children and many good friends who enjoyed his quiet manner and steady humour. We like to think he's taking one last run on Far Out, on Silver Star Mountain.
Lynn Embury-Williams is Dave's daughter.
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