David Charles Whitcombe (January 28, 1965 — June 19, 2019)
David Whitcombe spoke fluent Spanish, English with a variety of abominable accents, he fixed computer problems you didn’t know you had, and he did the hardest thing a person could do in this world: he made high school students care about math. All this (and more!) he accomplished with a quirked smile, a gleam in his eye, and sometimes a ridiculous hat — especially at Rifle High School football games.
David was born in Denver, Colorado, on January 28, 1965, to Julia and John Whitcombe. As a child, David spent bright childhood summers in Rifle, Colorado, and he returned there as an adult to live, learn, and, eventually, to teach.
“We used to come here every summer when I was a kid,” he once told The Citizen Telegram in an interview. “I love the city and I always have. The people are nice, and it’s just such a beautiful place.”
All through his life, he retained his love for learning and a childlike sense of wonder. He took two paths into the world: one through science, and one through philosophy. He attended the University of California San Diego in Electrical Engineering (1983-1986), worked as a repair depot manager for major tech companies in California (1989-1992), and then went to attend the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in Philosophy (1994-1999). He married Capri Wesley in 2011, and became a dear stepfather to her two children, Emily Wesley and Kenny Wesley. He loved cats and, despite being allergic, kept them his whole life.
Most people in Rifle knew David as the kooky math teacher at Rifle High School, where he worked from 1999 to 2010. Besides math, he taught computer repair, English, and could even fill in teaching in language arts or history when occasion demanded (sometimes even with middle schoolers! yikes!). He also was active in the drama department, and helped produce school plays.
David was never prouder than when students would come up to him and call him “Mr. Whitcombe,” or when a former student would send him a postcard acknowledging that, yes, after high school, a knowledge of math had indeed come in handy. He did many things after leaving his teaching position, but nothing meant as much to him as being able to explain a complicated concept (fractions! negative numbers!) to a confused 11th grader and to see the light dawn. David was beloved by his students and imparted a lifelong love of logic, logarithms, and philosophy in so many people.
He was preceded in death by his only child, a daughter, Faith, and survived by a family who will dearly miss him: his mother, Julia, his older sister, Nancy Whitcombe, his de-facto daughter, Emily Wesley, and his niece and nephew, Annie and John Baker. He passed away unexpectedly (and far too young), but peacefully and surrounded by his family and friends, on June 19, 2019.
One of his last wishes was to establish an “amazing, awesome” (his words) scholarship at Rifle High School. Contributions made through this campaign will be used to help accomplish this. If your life was touched by David, and you would like to see a little bit of his light live on and continue helping students at RHS as he was always meant to do, please visit the campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/f/david-whitcombe-scholarship-fund.
All are welcome to attend his Celebration of Life at 735 Ute Avenue in Rifle, CO, on August 3, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This will be a true celebration of the life of an extraordinary man: good food, good jokes, good friends, and the magnificent view westward over the Colorado River valley that David enjoyed every day of his life. Additional event details are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/461995884587000/
A light has gone out in all of our lives.
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