Obituaries: David Walter Martin

  • Wednesday January 10, 2024
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David Walter Martin
David Walter Martin

October 18, 1961 — November 30, 2023

David Walter Martin's remarkable, shining life ended in late November 2023 in Santa Rosa, California. Born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on October 18, 1961, David was a bright light and force of nature. One soon learned that this very cute, handsome man held strong opinions, which he expressed with laser clarity and charm. He attracted many friends, who liked and loved him.

David graduated from Kutztown University in 1985 with a B.S. in psychology and then moved west. He began his professional career at the University of San Diego, working as a development research assistant, identifying and documenting information on future funding sources for the university. David enjoyed the mid-1980s San Diego scene but his inner being needed more energy and excitement so he moved to San Francisco in 1986, securing work in the same capacity for the University of San Francisco. He worked with the university's presidents and administration to construct USF's Koret Health and Recreation Center and other projects.

David was in his element in his Castro apartment. For David, the Bay Area was beyond vibrant, and around every new corner was a new, exciting, often exhilarating experience. David thrived and moved to a stunning apartment near Buena Vista Park, where he had amazing times holding weekly "salons" with many enlightened, outrageously-fun, socially conscious friends.

The good times took a major pause in the early 1990s as David contracted HIV and experienced full-blown AIDS. David became a fierce AIDS activist and part of ACT UP/ San Francisco as well as other AIDS and gay rights organizations. Combating AIDS became his passion. David testified before National Institutes of Health officials in Washington, D.C. to demand increased AIDS treatments. Many dear friends died and David's health declined to the point where he could no longer work. He was grateful to the end for USF's generosity and appreciation.

CMV retinitis resulted in the loss of sight in his left eye. David was close to death numerous times. Gradually due to advances in treatment, combined with the love and dedication of numerous friends, volunteers, and medical professionals, David survived.

His appreciation for friends and physicians during this period of his life never ended.

His friends Walter, Jim, and Neil, three among many, were anchor friendships throughout his life, and he maintained a daily appreciation for the help of physicians Dr. Jay Lalezari and Dr. Lisa Capaldini. He was an early recipient of antiviral therapy, which saved his life. David's survival further fueled his passion for activism and he continued to fight for AIDS causes, gay rights, the legalization of medical marijuana, marriage equality, and numerous other politically progressive causes. He was proud to attend Barack Obama's inauguration.

David also participated in HIV-related medical studies to contribute to fighting the disease.

Seasons changed and David spent his remaining years in the Russian River town of Guerneville, Sebastopol, and finally Santa Rosa. In his later years, David became an expert at losing his cellphone, not paying his cellphone bill, and otherwise starting over with a new number, which caused many to lose touch with him. (He might send apologies from the grave, but while he regretted losing touch he never really apologized much!) Neighbors in Santa Rosa would be amazed to regularly spot David walking miles from his home for hours at a time. David continued to make new friends, rekindled old friendships, and never stopped smiling, laughing, skipping, and appreciating the world around him.

What a long, beautiful, exciting trip it was. David made a difference and he is survived by kind, compassionate, activists everywhere. Peace.

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