We’re here today to mourn the sudden and unexpected passing of David Engel, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather and cherished friend.
It’s hard to understand all this. It’s hard to figure out what we’re doing here. David was so full of life, so full of enthusiasm, so full of love. He was working just a little over a week ago. It’s hard to understand that this has really happened. If you know Dave’s medical history, you know that medical science gave him almost four decades more than he would have had at another time. He had his first heart attack 39 years ago. So intellectually, we are gratified that he was able to live all these years. But emotionally, we wanted him around for several more decades. This is very hard to bear. But as hard as this is, it’s our task to think about his life and value the way he lived it.
Dave was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on June 17, 1944, the son of Rabbi Mayer & Myra Engel. Since his father was a Chaplain, he grew up in several different places, including Philadelphia, Beverley, Massachusetts and Heidelberg, Germany. He had his Bar Mitzvah ceremony in Jerusalem.
He was always close to his brother Raphael. Even though they were almost from different generations, they were always loving brothers who literally went all the extra miles for each other and would do anything for each other.
He went to Camp Ramah and knew famous people like Chaim Potok and Wolf Blitzer and lots of people who became rabbis. Dave went to Pepperdine High School in Fort Dix, New Jersey and then onto Cal Berkeley where he was in ROTC just when things were the most leftwing at that famously leftwing school.
His father passed away very early, before Dave graduated, and this was always a deep source of sorrow for him. He lived his father so dearly and in many ways never got over his father’s passing. He would remember his father and talk about him with such respect and affection. He would always be close to his mother; he became the oldest man in the family and took his responsibilities very seriously and with great loyalty.
He joined the army and then began a career in business that would have many different chapters. He was always part of management, in quality control, procurement and project management.
He moved to Philadelphia, and to Hart, Schaffner and Marx in Chicago. In 1973, he met Sharon; they were set up by a cousin. They have been married 41 years. They moved to Kansas City and then to Dallas. Jonathan came 1978 and Joanna was born in 1979. Jonathan and Joanna will talk about their relationships with their father in a few minutes. He was a son-in-law who was a son to his mother-in-law Molly.
In 1987, he came to the Trudy Corporation as Vice President of Sales.
He traveled to China over a hundred times. And yet for all his travel through the years, he was a father who didn’t miss a band recital, a soccer game or a dance recital. And the family saw the world with him: Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Hawaii and California. He loved collecting menorahs and chachkes, especially tea pots, and eclectic art work.
Later he had his own company, Greystone Promotional Products. He worked at Sam’s Club in the Photo dept.; again, he was working nine days ago.
Maybe the toughest part of all this is that Miriam will not have her Saba. They had some incredible connection; you could see it in his eyes and her face. It just breaks our hearts to think about this aspect of Dave’s passing.
He had a wonderful relationship with cousins, especially in Israel, and was already planning his next trip to Israel. He was close to Jessica’s family; they are all one family.
Who was Dave Engel? He was the nicest guy who would do anything for anybody. He loved to bake and cook and overcook and cook everyone’s special dishes. He even baked for the dog. Passover was his holiday.
If I can add a couple of personal words: I liked Dave as soon as I met him. We are both Rabbi’s sons; I even learned from my mother that our fathers knew each other from the Chaplaincy. Dave loved Israel and Judaism and he cared about Veterans deeply. We had a lot in common. He also had a mystical sense that I connected to. I am simply dismayed and shocked that he has passed away.
To Sharon, to Jonathan and Jessica and Miriam, to Joanna and Dana, to Rafael, we wish you G-d’s comfort at this sad time.
He was a righteous person. May he rest in peace. Let us say Amen.