David Lee Willingham
1938-June 7, 2012
Palo Alto, California
David Lee Willingham, who celebrated life with passion and enthusiasm, passed away on Thursday, June 7, 2012.
Born in Evanston, Ill., in 1938, David spent his childhood in Seattle and then moved to the Los Angeles area. It was there that he started his family with two beautiful daughters, Andrea and Laura.
With a master's degree from USC in Clinical Social Work he began his career in crisis intervention at the USC Medical Center. He was a pioneer in the development of community mental health. Throughout his career the populations he served were many and varied -- from training mental health professionals for the State Department of Health to treating mentally ill offenders at Atascadero State Hospital.
Just as significant as his professional work were the casual conversations David had with those he encountered. David's warmth and sincere interest in people opened them to his advice and expertise, which he gave generously. His depth of knowledge, his objectivity, and his unique perspectives on life were experienced by the most fortunate among us. Through language and by example, he conveyed his deep understanding of our universal interconnectedness and the road to the conscious mind.
As a consultant and counselor, David volunteered for 24 years with Kara, a community agency dedicated to helping people in their journey through grief.
A legendary storyteller, David had an extraordinary ability to connect with people, a smile that lit up a room, a laugh that was contagious, and a sense of humor that was zany and unpredictable.
He became an accomplished triathlete later in life and his joy was an inspiration to others. A creative man, he was a painter, an author and a voracious reader.
David and his wife Joan shared a great love affair and a profound partnership. They began their careers together as psychotherapists in the 60's and for the past two decades they have worked side by side in their private practices counseling individuals and families. They worked, laughed and explored the world together for 42 years, living life as one continuous adventure. Their son Alex was David's kindred spirit.
David shared his love of life with his three children, six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
A man of integrity and wisdom who lived in the present, David was not restricted by ordinary boundaries. He inspired those around him to achieve beyond their own expectations. His contributions have shaped the lives of thousands and he will be sorely missed.
Tags: public service