Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Donald Murry David, USAF
November 20, 1935 – March 27, 2021
Donald Murray David, beloved husband of Margaret Hornady, died in Boston of pneumonia not related to COVID-19 on March 27, 2021.
A celebration of Don’s life will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 30, at the Riverside Country Club. Daniel Naranjo will officiate.
Don was born Nov. 20, 1935, to A. Lloyd David and Lois Goddard David in Melrose, Mass.
He was the fourth child and second son of six children born to this family. He grew up and was educated through high school in Reading, Mass.
In junior high, Don began a lifelong love affair with all things aeronautical. While other boys were playing ball, Don sat, in what had been the coal bin of their family home, building airplanes out of balsa wood.
He graduated from high school in 1953, and, to no one’s surprise, he joined the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force taught Don to be an instructor in helicopter mechanics. He was always a little embarrassed to tell people that he spent his tour of duty during the Korean conflict stationed in Bermuda. It took a little bit of talking to convince him that he served his country doing what the Air Force wanted him to do; and just because he wasn’t shot at in some cold muddy trench, he was still entitled to go on the Veterans flight to Washington, D.C.
After his service Don began to study Aeronautical Engineering at Boston University. While there, he met and married Judie Wright, a nursing student. The marriage did not endure.
Don worked full time, first for AVCO then for Polaroid, in the meantime completing his degree by attending class at night. It is quite an accomplishment to have persevered for 16 years working full time, and taking one class a semester to get that degree.
Don and Margaret “Margi” were married in August 1981 and moved to Grand Island to join Hornady Manufacturing. Don was an accomplished engineer and quickly became chief engineer for Hornady. He excelled at organization; some of the systems he set up are still in use today.
Don retired from Hornady in 2000, but true to his first passion, he and his friend Don Terry built a two-thirds scale Baby Bell Helicopter. It flew! They tricked it out to look like a M.A.S.H. chopper and had great fun touring it around to various air shows. Don Terry was the more experienced pilot and, after his death, Don donated the plane to the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington where they display it in M.A.S.H. setting as in the TV show, complete with a still and a mannequin to look like Lt. Houlihan.
Don was known for his patriotism and service to community. He volunteered with the Nebraska State Patrol Motorist Assist program to drive up and down a section of I-80 and help motorists in trouble. He enjoyed helping people but the service became obsolete as cell phones became ubiquitous and the State terminated the program.
He will be remembered for his kindness and generosity of spirit, as well as, a warm smile, cheerful disposition, sense of humor and terrible puns. Don couldn’t tell a standard joke to save his soul, but fast as a flash he could make a pun out of nearly anything you said.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Lloyd and Lois; and two siblings, Arthur, called “Bud” by the family, and Ann (David) Young.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret Hornady-David; and children, Scott David and wife Sheri; Kelley and husband Mark Szmyt; and Wendy, as well as Margi’s sons, Chris Steadman and Geoff Steadman; and five grandchildren, Meghan Szmyt Vestal, Casey Szmyt, Heather David, Kevin David and Sarah Steadman; and three siblings, Barbara (David) Rollins, Robert David (Jacqulyn Butz) and Betsy David.
Memorials are suggested to the Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity or The Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles.
Published by The Grand Island Independent on Apr. 25, 2021.
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