David Boyd Edie, age 75, passed away on January 17, 2023 following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s and a brief battle with cancer. A lifetime professional advocate and champion for young children, he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and brother.
Dave was born in Minneapolis in 1947 to Jack and Helen Edie, both educators. With four siblings including a twin brother, Dave’s diplomatic skills were honed early while he navigated scrapes with his bigger and stronger twin brother by forging an alliance of convenience with his older brother. Dave had a happy childhood filled with pick-up baseball games in the neighborhood and adventure-filled summers at his beloved Camp Warren in Northern Minnesota. He thrived at Blake school where his father was a history teacher, debate coach, baseball coach, and finally Headmaster.
Going out to Amherst for college set the stage for the rest of his life, including friendships forged through the fires of challenging distribution requirements, engagement in the turmoil of the late 1960’s, and a deepened love for choral music. During his senior year Dave met Smith College freshman Diane Garton, the love of his life, and everything changed. It was cornball love-at-first sight, often reflected on during their 54 loving and fun-filled years together. Dave and Diane were married in August of 1970, and Dave instantly embraced Diane’s family of active and energetic sports enthusiasts and lively extroverts. He was always up for any activity and relished every minute of them all.
Dave’s career choice was governed by wanting to hang out near Smith College while Diane finished her undergrad, so he got his master’s degree in education from nearby Springfield College while working in Teacher Corps in the local inner-city schools. After Diane graduated, they moved to Bloomington, Indiana where Diane pursued a graduate degree in theater while Dave began his career as a childcare administrator by designing and overseeing the launch of a new early childhood education center that served a diverse population.
Their first two children, Jake and Rachel, were born in Indiana, while daughter Nora followed upon their move to Madison, where they raised the family and lived. Dave’s love of young children was a continuum, spanning his roles as teacher, father, uncle, and grandfather. He loved nothing more than encouraging and attending his children’s and grandchildren’s pursuits: sports, academics, music, and drama. Dave was an extremely present and loving father from the moment his kids were born. He not only rocked, sang to, played with, and cheered on his children and grandchildren, he played with any babies and toddlers he saw at stores, parks, concerts, and sporting events. Accompanying Dave and family throughout life were a series of beloved pets, starting with pigs (training for the impending arrival of first-born Jake), and including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, snakes, hermit crabs, chinchillas, rats, fish, newts, frogs, and chameleons.
Dave dedicated his 40-year career to improving the lives of young children and their families, primarily in Wisconsin. Valuing family over status, he turned down promotions and job offers in Madison, Milwaukee, Colorado, and Washington DC, preferring to work on the front line and keep his family in Madison. In 1989, Dave was one of 14 national experts selected to visit France to study their renowned daycare system. The family remembers him talking in particular about one of the other delegates, who at the time was the little-known wife of the governor of Arkansas but who quickly went on to loftier titles. Another fond family memory is Dave’s ability to proudly recite the 72 counties of Wisconsin in alphabetical order, a feat he mastered during his frequent travels across the state while Director of the Office of Childcare for the State of Wisconsin. Throughout his career, Dave was known for his diplomatic ability to work effectively with governors from both parties to serve the needs of children.
Upon Dave's retirement from the State of Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin Governor and then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, wrote the following to Dave: “Your work has demonstrated to the nation that it is possible to design child care policy that results in quality and affordability for low-income families.”
Music was a constant source of joy and fulfillment throughout Dave’s life, starting with choir in high school. Choral singing led to some of Dave’s favorite experiences, including a half dozen international singing tours with the Amherst Glee Club, Mastersingers, and Festival Choir to locations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Watching his wife, daughters, and grandchildren perform in music and theater warmed his heart until the day he died (note: missing from this area is his son, who limited his performances to the soccer field and swimming pool).
Dave loved travelling, hiking, exploring, and meeting new people. Towards the end of his life, he logged many miles a day walking in the neighborhood and in his favorite dog parks with his beloved dog Lightning by his side.
Not an exceptional athlete, Dave nevertheless loved sports of all kinds and ended up excelling in many through joy, determination, and cunning. Much to their dismay, he often bested his more athletic brothers and brothers-in-law in bowling, golf, tennis, and pool. He played fast-pitch softball until he was too old to slide. Notable achievements include a hole-in-one in golf, a high score of 264 in bowling, and repeat winner of the coveted rubber chicken trophy at the family’s annual pool tournament. Emblematic of his open-minded joie de vivre was his progression from uncomfortable swimmer to scuba diver who dove all over the Caribbean on a series of uproarious family trips.
In addition to participating in sports, Dave was a devoted follower of many teams. His fandom began with boyhood hero Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants, and continued with the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the University of Wisconsin women’s athletics. But nothing gave him more joy than watching his children and grandchildren competing in sports: preschoolers swarming the ball on a soccer field, high school and collegiate tennis, massive fastpitch softball tournaments, and state swimming meets. He must have pitched roughly a million wiffle balls with pinpoint accuracy to his children and grandchildren.
Incidentally, Dave always enjoyed a good fart joke and was very proud to be the subject of an FBI file stemming from his political activism during the Vietnam war.
Dave is survived by his wife Diane; children Jake, Rachel (Jay), and Nora (Jed); grandchildren Stella, Clara, Romeo, Otis, Jack, Molly, Apollo, and Campbell; siblings John (Gail), Bob (Sue), Jim, and Priscilla (Nate); and countless nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.
As Alzheimer’s stripped away Dave’s cognitive abilities, all that was left was his true core: sweet kindness. One of his final sentences was “I love everyone.”
A memorial celebration will be planned for the late spring or early summer, details to be shared at a later date on this website. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Opera for the Young (www.ofty.org) or a child-related charity of your choice.