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David S. Jareckie

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David S. Jareckie 1921 - 2008 BENNINGTON David Spelman Jareckie, 87, born at home in Madison, N.J., on Sept. 10, 1921, passed away Dec. 9, 2008, at his home in Benningtonthe same day as his father's death in 1974. A greater part of Dave's life, 37 years, was involved in a teaching career that he thoroughly enjoyed. A former colleague of Dave's, John Duval, aptly summed up how much Dave valued his profession, his students, and his colleagues in a tribute that he wrote for him at the time of his retirement: "If there was a Hall of Fame for teachers, this man would make it on the first ballot. As a beginning teacher at Bennington High School in September of 1965, I was, like all beginning teachers, at times confused, overwhelmed, and discouraged. It was David Jareckie who, in his own quiet, supportive way, took me under his wing and helped me become a teacher. It is a debt that I am sure I share with many other young men and women who have entered the profession. Dave was, and I am sure still is, a brilliant teach er, both technically and conceptually. He was always changing, always growing, always adapting, always eager to meet the needs of his students. David is a man of great personal courage and unquestionable integrity. I like to think that all men and women, given the opportunity to reflect, would endeavor to act during their time on earth in such a way as to make a contribution to the betterment of the human condition. Many of us often fall back from the challenge or fail in some small way. It takes guts, brains, vision, humility, compassion, and a clear sense of purpose to stay the course. Well done, David. You have made a difference." Dave received his early education in Madison, N.J. It took him six years to complete high school because of a learning disability. In the fall of 1941, feeling strongly that America would soon enter World War II, Dave enrolled at Norwich University. The military college, in Northfield, prepared Dave for service, and he was a member of the last horse cavalry unit at the University. Dave was eager to join the military and he purposely flunked out of Norwich and volunteered for the Army in May 1942. He was assigned to the Army Air Corps' 8th Air Force and served in England, Belgium, and France, where he worked as an aircraft instrument specialist mainly with B-17 bombers. In his spare time he helped fellow soldiers write love letters to send home to their sweethearts, and he spent days off in the homes of local people whom he had befriended. Dave was in Paris on leave when word got out that the War had ended and he had fond memories of taking part in the city's jubilation. Dave was discharged from the Air Force in October 1945. In January 1946, he used the GI Bill to return to Norwich University for a semester before transferring to the University of Vermont, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Social Studies. Upon graduation, Dave went to Switzerland for two years where he attended Ecole Hoteliere to study cooking and hotelier in Lausanne. The rigorous classes were conducted in French and he spent his free time unwinding by hiking and skiing the Alps. During summer break, Dave went to Unterjoch, Germany, to lead a group of young people associated with the German Youth Camp in building a chalet in the Bavarian Alps. Dave felt that it was important to be involved in the rebuilding of Germany and to do his part to mend relationships with Germans after the War. It was this experience of working with young people that cemented Dave's interest in a career in education. Having his sights set on a career in education, Dave returned to the University of Vermont to earn his master's degree in Education, graduating in 1952. That same year he began his teaching career at Bradford Academy in Bradford. In 1954 Dave moved to Bennington to teach at "Benn Hi" and later at Mount Anthony Union High School. In 1956, Dave met Grace Jones, and the two were married at St. Peter's Church in 1957. Dave balanced his career with his growing family. During that time Dave's career sometimes took him outside the traditional classroom setting. His family (now including daughters, Ellen, Ann, and Wren) moved to Berkeley, Calif., in 1963 after Dave received a John Hay Fellowship to study Humanities at the University of California at Berkeley for one year. In 1966, through a Health Education and Welfare grant, he traveled to Ethiopia to study East African culture at Haile Selassie University, and he included travels to Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. The following year, Dave received a grant through the Dept. of Education to lay the groundwork for a pilot program for high school students' participation in gaining insight into problems of developing nations. Dave and his family resided in Mexico for a year during the developmental stages of the program, when his son, David, was born. In the late '60's, Dave, Bob Howe, and John Duval brought MAU students to Atlapulco, Mexico, for several summers as part of the program to assist the villagers by teaching them English and developing a tourism industry based on mountain and rock climbing, hiking, and horseback riding. In the early '70s Dave worked with the Bennington Boys Program, an alternative program to foster students' self-development and education. The program offered physical challenges to develop students' confidence and courage. Following the Bennington Program, Dave returned to the traditional classroom setting at MAUHS until he retired from teaching in 1991. It was difficult for Dave to leave the profession for which he cared so deeply and only reluctantly decided it was time when he realized he was teaching the grandchildren of his first students in Bennington. For 51 years, Dave and Grace created a warm home filled with companionship, humor, and unwavering love and support for family and friends that extended to several international students from Japan, Malawi, and Russia. In between the academic periods Dave enjoyed summer breaks when he designed and built houses with friends, Ron VanOrden, Sandy Sumner, and Bob Howe. Dave and Grace worked side-by-side maintaining a large vegetable garden each year and intermittently raised farm animals. Dave had many other interests. Among them were spending time with his family, traveling, reading, politics, skiing, splitting firewood, hunting, and fishing. The simplicity of country life and the beauty of Vermont had appealed to Dave from the earliest days of his youth when his family spent their summers at Elmwood Farm in West Fairlee. The family's wonderful experience at the farm was attributed to the warm individuals who lived close to the land and led authentic and rewarding lives within the support of a small and close-knit community. Dave enjoyed physical activity and took great pride in running for health, pleasure, and competition. Dave kept running until the age of 79, when he was diagnosed with cancer and his exercise routine was replaced by walking until a stroke finally sidelined him this summer. Dave's tenacious and positive spirit and love of life will be deeply missed by those who knew him. Dave's warm charm always had a way of making everyone around him feel at ease. As a man of deep conviction, he followed his heart and stood up for causes he believed in. Dave's unceasing interest in people, history, and politics elicited many conversations over countless cups of coffee. Dave was profoundly happy upon supporting and witnessing the election of the first African American presidentit gave him hope that the country is on the right track. Dave leaves his wife Grace; daughters, Ellen of Shelburne, Ann of Bennington, Wren Sugarman of Medford, Mass,, and her husband, Jeff, and son, Jake; son, David of Bennington, and his partner, Sherry Schwarz; sister, Doris O. Honig of West Fairlee; brother, Stephen B. Jareckie of Worcester, Mass., and his wife, Gretchen, and many friends and family. Dave was predeceased by his parents, Eugene Albert and
Published in Bennington Banner from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17, 2008
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