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David William Gessford

NORTH CANAAN — Dr. David William Gessford, 76, passed away on Jan. 7, 2012, following a lengthy illness. He was born May 28, 1935, in Provo, Utah, to the late Blanche (Evans) and John Bentley Gessford. He grew up in California, attending Santa Paula Union High School and Ventura Junior College.In 1955, Dave left California for Cornell University, where he met the love of his life and wife of 52 years, Sandra Marie Bale. At Cornell, he was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and Ho-Nun-De-Kah Honorary Society. After earning a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Cornell in 1957, he served in the U.S. Army until 1959. He went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in plant breeding from Michigan State University, and then began his teaching career at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.In 1965, David and Sandra moved to East Orleans, Mass., where they spent 37 years raising their family and being active in the local community. Dave, affectionately known as “Doc” by many, taught science in the Nauset school system for 35 years, coaching both basketball and tennis for many years. He was co-founder and director of the Lower Cape Open Tennis Tournament for more than 30 years. His love of teaching and tennis spanned generations of families and his patient, reassuring style is remembered by his many students.An Eagle Scout, Dave served as Scoutmaster for Orleans Troop 72 for many years, and was very proud to have both his son, Michael, and his grandson, David, carry this tradition forth by becoming Eagle Scouts.Dave was an avid bird watcher and knowledgeable horticulturist, taking great pleasure in growing flowers, delicious vegetables and fruit trees. He was a charter board member of the Massachusetts chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation and was also a devoted member of the First Churches of Christ, Scientist, in Brewster, Mass., and in recent years, Great Barrington. He also served on the Snow Library board of trustees and was chairman of the building committee in the 1970s.Dave is survived by his wife, Sandra (Bale) Gessford, of North Canaan; his daughter, Jean Marie Gessford of Danbury; his brother, Glen Norman Gessford of Malibu, Calif.; his daughter-in-law, Judith Gessford, of Simsbury; his grandchildren, Molly Bancroft Gessford, David Michael Gessford, Alessandro Gessford da Silva, Sara Jessica Gessford da Silva, Cristiano Gessford da Silva and Francesca Jean Gessford Medina; his mother-in-law, Marie Sackett Bale of Burdett, N.Y.; his sisters-in-law Patti Venturini and her husband, Mario, of Cortland, N.Y., and Susan Gessford of San Marino, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Michael Bale Gessford; his brothers, John Evans Gessford and Fred Chenoworth Gessford; and his father-in-law, Robert Osborne Bale Jr.A service celebrating Dave’s life will be held at a future date. Memorial donations may be made to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, 454 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230 Attn: Treasurer; or to the Dr. David W. Gessford Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Salisbury Bank and Trust Company, PO Box 757, North Canaan, CT 06018 Attn: Betsy R. Devino. Arrangements are under the care of the Newkirk-Palmer Funeral Home in North Canaan.

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