HOLYOKE - David Starr Bingham, 86, died during the early hours of Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. He had taken up residence at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke a year ago last April, suffering from Ålzheimer's dementia, a diagnosis that was confirmed last August by his neurologist. His death was truly a merciful death. His condition had deteriorated considerably during the previous month and he finally succumbed to pneumonia.
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He was born Oct. 17, 1926, and was the fourth and youngest child of his parents, Charles Edward Bingham and Gertrude White Barnum Bingham, in Westfield, N.J., where he spent his childhood and was educated in the local public schools.
In June of 1944, he graduated at the age of 17 from Westfield High School and immediately joined the Navy as a volunteer. When World War II ended, David was stationed in San Diego from which he had been serving as a waist-gunner on liberator bombers.
At last he was free to begin the 12 years of educational preparation required for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology by the U.S. Veterans Administration. As David liked to tell it, his first steps on that long road began from his cot three steps from the wall of the basketball gym at Illinois College. Getting into the college of one's choice at that particular time in history, took some maneuvering.
After a semester at Illinois College and finding he had earned straight A's, having scarcely cracked a book, although he had had a terrific social life, David applied for a transfer to Princeton and was accepted, much to the delight of his father, who was a Princeton alumnus, who had graduated summa and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. David majored in Economics, in anticipation of entering his family's business in foreign trade. With that in mind, after his junior year, he joined his parents in Germany where his father was serving as commissioner of foreign trade in Bi-zonia during the U.S. occupation. David's study of the economy of Bi-Zonia satisfied the Princeton requirement of a senior thesis for graduation and helped him to graduate with honors. But, a funny thing happened on the way to graduation during his senior year. David took a course in psychology, something he had never thought of doing before. The man who taught the course, who was a big name in his field at that time, swept David off his intellectual feet and challenged him as Economics never had. David spent the following year taking courses in psychology after which he applied to graduate school and admission to a Ph.D. program, being sponsored by the V.A. at the University of Connecticut. It was that choice that finally brought David to Northampton as an intern at the V.A. Neuropsychiatric hospital in Leeds.
Forty years later, as he began to plan his retirement, he had made a list of goals he hoped to reach. At the top of that list he had a plan to put two coats of Gulf Blue paint on each and every shutter on his home and he did accomplish that.
The second goal would take a bit longer, 18 or 20 years in fact. His goal was to write the genealogical history of his Connecteicut Bingham family to honor his mother's memory, he accomplished that also. It fills 14 volumes, two of which are pictorial. He did all of its writing on his computer and was able to record it on a disc. David worked off an earlier genealogical history of his Connecteicut Bingham family but that is essentially a history of Bingham men.
David's history is a history of all the families of the women who married those Bingham men. It is in process of being copyrighted at the Library of Congress. David did not have a plan to seek a copyright, that was his wife's idea. She, on the other hand believes that David knew that he might not have enough time left to wait for a copyright. His genealogical history was one of the last things he was able to complete before the Alzheimer's plague began to reveal itself. Even his large vegetable garden had to be dropped in mid-season and that was also truly a labor of love.
David Starr Bingham is survived by his wife Beverly Parker Bingham; his son Geoffrey Parker Bingham and his wife Carol Watson, of Bloomington, Ind.; his daughter Kimberly Starr Bingham Knopf and her spouse Kevin B Knopf of California; four grandchildren, Daniel Tracy Bingham, Edward (Ned) Arthur Bingham both of Bloomington, Ind. and Nathaniel David Knopf and Sarah Bingham Knopf, both of California.
It is of interest to note that David Starr Bingham is a direct descendant of William Bradford, author of the Mayflower Compact and of the History of Plymouth Plantation.
David was predeceased by his sister and two brothers.
David's funeral will be private.
The Bingham family will be at home to greet friends and neighbors who may wish to call at a later date not yet decided.
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Dec. 27, 2012