Saturday, March 3, 2012

We are better people for having had him in our lives.


David Doernberg died at his home in New York City on March 2 and his leaving diminishes our world. He was born August 29, 1967 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Ray (now deceased) and Myrna Doernberg. In addition to his mother, David leaves his adored older brother, Michael, his dear sister-in-law Lynn and two nephews, Alex and Zach (Cary, NC).

Those who knew and loved Dave enjoyed watching him build a successful career as a production designer. At the start, David collaborated on music videos for such bands as Sonic Youth, Superchunk and Yo La Tengo. As his work became known, Dave was sought out for commercials and independent films. An eye for detail and an understated aesthetic are hallmarks of Dave’s memorable body of work. Though still young, David made the time to mentor other designers who admired his work and his collaborative style. Dave was especially proud of his contribution to such films as Junebug, Gummo, Palindromes and Meek’s Cutoff.

David never took for granted that life is precious. Above all, he valued family and friendship. His passion for food and cooking, the ocean, nicknames, film, music, architecture, design and the Yanks provide just a small sense of a life fully lived. David traveled and as with all of life, he experienced it with joy: the beaches of Shelter Island, the slopes of Jackson Hole, camping in Big Sur, a motorcycle trip through the mountains of Northern India were most memorable.

We will remember David as a devoted son, an extraordinary brother and loving uncle. Those who were fortunate to experience his unique brand of friendship will tell you how he provided encouragement, a welcoming ear, good counsel offered with humor, openness and warmth. The stamina with which he fought against a disease that would not let up has inspired strength, calm and courage in all who knew him. His memory lives on in whom he loved and all who loved him. We are better people for having had him in our lives.

There will be a memorial service at The National Arts Club in New York City on March 10 and a springtime tree planting will take place in Chapel Hill, NC - date to be determined.
Memorial contributions can be made to Doctors Without Borders http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org or No Kid Hungry http://www.nokidhungry.org

24 comments:

  1. ...

    I am very sorry to think of David in any kind of pain because it was such a pleasure to be in his life, even in a small way. I remember his voice the most, which is a funny thing for a deaf guy to say, but there it is.

    All love to his survivors, and smiles later.

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    1. I laughed out loud when I read this, and thought, "That's SO weird, that's what he used to say about Arthur."

      Then I saw that it was you.

      Lovely remembering, Arthur.

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  2. thank you for this beautiful tribute to a beautiful man, friend & colleague. dave was such a part of my life in production & made every time i shared with him, a bit more special. it was like having my brother on the job with me. someone whom i felt like i knew before i knew him. i'll never forget one of the 1st jobs with him in the dumont dunes where his crew consisted of him & tony & a little truck with some bags & laughing blue eyes. how he grew into such a talent. the details & back story on each of his sets made me want to walk through & look through the drawers & journals of the characters he had built. even for our 30 second commercials. the girls rooms had drawings of horses & doodles with boys names & stuffed animals that had history. doovey you are imprinted in my heart. i will take everywhere. xoxo paula

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  3. A very beautiful tribute to an equally beautiful,wonderful and interesting person. I have not seen much of Dave for years but every opportunity that I had was a opportunity for happiness. Travel well my Union Brother. xxx Peter

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  4. To Dave's friends and family, I only knew him through this blog, but his energy and love for food and friends was infectious. I am so sorry for your loss. -Jim S.

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  5. Many years ago in a faraway land known as the low budget hip hop music video set, I met a man, a sweet and funny dude who went by the name of Dave, or Metal Dave. Either/Or. I immediately sensed that here was a good soul, a true mensch with an open and expressive heart. Dave's indomitable sense of humor, his unflagging work ethic, his great aesthetic "eye" and all around loyalty, sensitivity, good council, attentive presence and supportive vibe would be a great asset for me, a semi clueless art director who could use all the help he could get. Plus, Dave had some great indie rock stories and did a gut bustingly funny impression of Diamanda Galas commenting on a cupcake. I can still hear Dave imitating the dark diva. So following the adage about hiring people who were more talented and skilled that oneself, I did just that. Because Dave was. And it came as no surprise that Dave Doernberg grew into such a respected talent in his field. Knowing this has always made me proud. For a while there, Dave and I were a team. I loved working with him, the most supportive guy I ever had on any of my crews. And no matter how odious the circumstance, Dave was a champ--a gentle pro. And these were low budget hip hop videos we're talking about. I recall how during hairy moments on set, Dave, raising the palms of his hands skyward, would haltingly ask me this weird, rhetorical question-"Do you hate me?" I would laugh at the absurdity of his query and respond," No Dave, I love you." Because I did. Dave and I hung out socially a bit. And I really admired his tight friendship with Phil--we should all be so lucky to have a friend like Mr. Morrison. But traveling down our respective paths, Dave and I fell out of touch through the years. I recently heard Dave's body had been insulted by cancer, and seeking any information about his condition, I stumbled across this blog. Equal parts gastronomy and courage, a true testament to Dave's strength of spirit and community of friends. And in the way he made his life, both in darkness and in light, there seems a message which Dave has left for us all-relish the feast which is set before us and enjoy the company of those with whom we share it, because it is all too soon that the table is cleared. Dave, I will always remember you with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. And no, I don't hate you. All my condolences to Dave's family. He was a good man. A very good man. And we the better humans for having shared this life with him. Rock on my friend.

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  6. But thy eternal summer shall not fade.....

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  7. Dave you will be missed, I always remember you as the guy who took a picture of his lunch at Xavier's in Yonkers, then told me all about your blog which I ended up following-
    I'm glad we got to chat last month

    peace be with you

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  8. A small group of six people who knew another side of Dave spent their time intimately sharing their memories of him and who he was to them tonight. He is missed.

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  9. i really wanted to say something but always find myself lost for words when my heart is deeply involved. i will quote the author of the last entry on Dave's blog... "we are better people for having had him in our lives". perfectly said. thank you. for making this easier for me.
    and thank you Dave for always making me laugh and being a part of my life. i will miss you very much. xo

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  10. Small group: that's exciting! You are real! We always knew you were there, but that's all!

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    1. This recognition brings tears of joy...

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    2. We met a few days ago and spoke to him with many strong feelings, and felt that he was with us and would never leave.

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  11. I knew Dave from high school and followed his career from a distance, assuming we could catch up once our paths crossed again through mutual friends and acquaintances. So sad to learn he lived nearby rather than LA as I assumed, and I should have actively sought him out. By reading his blog and these posts, it's clear he never changed in the important ways, and was a wonderful and gregarious uncle, brother, son and friend. He will be missed

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  12. I will always remember the first time I met Dave- we had one of those "isn't it ridiculous" moments in an elevator at BU where I'd dropped my license and he- upon spotting it- said "You're from Winston-Salem?" Turns out we had many friends in common, and he was a bright and steady friend during what was (for me) a horrible freshman year. I am not surprised by the grace and humor with which he dealt with his own horrible year, and must second (or third) the statement that "we are better people for having had him in our lives"- whatever the circumstances. His ready smile and kind ear, and unbeatable sense of humor will never be forgotten.

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  13. What a nice guy, what a charmer, what a loss. I had not seen him in over a decade but catching up on the blog entries I could hear him clear as day. I am grateful that he had such strong support during a terrible time.

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  14. Enjoyed following EatDaveLove. Will make a donation in Dave's name on Doctors Without Borders.

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  15. I have been crying all night long. I worked with Dave many times but I never had the privilege of spending time with him outside of work. To me he was the kindest and most endearing person I ever worked with. When his brother said today that he had asked in the last days of his life "Did I matter?", I can only add my voice to the chorus of love and support that surrounded him and say yes you did Dave.

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  16. dear sweet man. you are missed.

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  17. The first time I met Dave we were working on a Snickers commercial directed by Phil Morrison. The gag of the commercial was that people people would obliterate these bobble head dolls that David had fabricated. I had an affinity for the dolls because I had done sculptural work years before with them. I asked Dave if there were any dolls left at the end of the production if I might take some home with me. We shot late into the evening and when the shoot was wrapped, David came over to me and gave me the few remaining dolls he had left as well as the shattered pieces from the destroyed ones.
    No matter the absurdity of the adventure, the stress of the moment, Dave always carried a beatific presence. He was someone you gravitated to because you felt at peace with his being.
    Much love to you Dave and may your example of the way you lived be a guide to those of us who remain behind.

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  18. I am so saddened to hear the news about Dave. I only worked with him a few times but we immediately took to each other and had a very similar work aesthetic. I always looked forward to hearing when he was coming into town. He was such a nice, easy going man with a great sense of humor. It was nice being able to talk food with him!! He was certainly a foodie. It's rare in this business to meet a really genuine, kind funny person.
    And the answer that everyone already knows to his question is - YES, Dave you DID matter. I hope you're designing a quirky set high in the sky. XO

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  19. I worked with Dave far fewer times than I would have liked to, and each time was memorable and delightful... I often would run into him when walking around in the village - kinda near his place. It was always so good to catch up and spend a little time with him... like hearing a song you love, but don't hear enough. I was walking around those streets the other day and wished so badly I could run into him again.
    I'm sure we all do.
    MIss you Dave.

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  20. Holy crap, what horrible news! Loved being around him.

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