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David William Woodard

1938 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
David William Woodard Obituary
Woodard, David William

Cayuga Heights, NY: David Woodard, whose life was characterized by a quiet dignity and grace, died on November 9, 2012 at his home in Ithaca, New York. He was 74. The cause of death was prostate cancer. David was born in Philadelphia, PA to George and Anita Synnestvedt Woodard on September 28, 1938. The second of three children, David was raised in Swarthmore and Bryn Athyn, PA. After his mother died when he was six, he lived with his uncle and aunt, Kenneth and Beatrice Synnestvedt, for two years. David and his siblings were reunited as a family when his father married Nancy Horigan, and David became one of five children after two sons were born to his father and step-mother. David was educated at the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, and he served as class president during his senior year of high school. He did his undergraduate work in applied physics at Princeton University, graduating in 1962. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Cornell in 1979. Shortly after graduating from college, David married Susan Brown, whom he met in high school. They set up their first home in New Jersey, where David was employed at Bell Labs. David was recruited by Professor Lester Eastman for graduate school at Cornell University and moved his growing family to Ithaca, NY. David took a leave from his doctoral studies to work for Cayuga Associates before completing his doctoral work. A researcher and teacher for his entire career, David began his employment with Cayuga Associates in the 1960s. He became involved in developing Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) semi-conductor devices. At the time, Cayuga Associates, an early commercializer of specialty GaAs devices was breaking new ground, building the fabrication systems for these devices from separate components. The early company of seven included two machinists as well as the engineers designing the technology. In time, Cayuga Associates was purchased by NARDA. David stayed on with NARDA as a consultant, assisting in its pioneering efforts in the development of commercial ultra-high speed GaAs transistor devices, more recent incarnations of which can be found today in products such as cell phones and other microwave frequency wireless devices.

David worked as a research associate at Cornell's School of Engineering for many years, retiring in 2000. He took his greatest pride and pleasure in helping to nurture, support, and develop graduate students. He expressed his personal integrity and work ethic through pure and uncompromising dedication to their welfare and best interests. A number of his students went on to become eminent professors, as well as major contributors and business leaders in technology. David was a lifelong competitive athlete who found his greatest success in rowing. He won the Head of the Schuylkill, as well as the C.R.A.S.H.-B indoor erg competition. He competed well in the Head of the Charles many times, including in October 2011 when he was in treatment for advanced prostate cancer, finishing 15th in a field of 50. Todd Kennett, Cornell's Director of Rowing said, "Dave was an idol my entire career at Cornell. Old man rowing beat most guys for years. I loved to see him row. As the years went by he was the ageless warrior who just pulled for the sake of pulling which to me as coach is a trait I don't see enough." Always open to new physical challenges, he imported Bonna skis from Norway in the early 1970s and was one of the first in Ithaca to embrace cross-country skiing. It was a sport he would enjoy each winter for the rest of his life. David was also a longtime regular at the early morning Masters Swim at Cornell's Teagle Pool. Beyond athletics, Dave enjoyed singing with the Ithaca Community Chorus, immersing himself in a good book, listening to classical music, and baking a mean loaf of bread. Following Sue's untimely death in 2002, David was lucky enough to have the chance to create a new life with Linda Buttel. They married in 2005, and took their children and grandchildren along on their honeymoon - canoe camping in Maine. They shared a love of rowing and cross-country skiing, theater, music and lively conversation with their family and friends. David is survived by his wife, Linda Woodard; his sons, Kenneth (Terri) and Nathan Woodard; his step-daughter, Allison Buttel; his grandchildren, Luke and Lauren Woodard; his sister Anna (Dan) Pendleton, and his three brothers: Kim (Shu Qin), Dan (Joan), and Matt (Lisa) Woodard; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. The Woodard family would like to thank Dr. Garbo and the staff of Hospicare for the compassionate care they provided David in the final months of his life, especially Adrian, whose skillful nursing brought comfort and peace during his last days. Those who wish to honor David's memory are asked to consider gifts to Hospicare, at 172 East King Road, Ithaca New York 14850; or the Finger Lakes Land Trust, at 202 East Court Street, Ithaca, New York 14850. A Celebration of David's Life will be announced at a later date in the Ithaca Journal. David was known to be a man who was careful with a dollar, eschewing what he saw as unneeded luxuries in favor of sustainable, practical living. However, one of his few indulgences was good wine to share with friends and family over dinner. To those who knew him, please raise a glass in his memory.

Published in Ithaca Journal from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19, 2012
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