Recalled by the manufacturer September 16, 2013 after a long illness, hastened by a recent stroke. Preceded in death by his beloved wife Elise and brother Hollis Jr. in 2011. Born Marsden Black on April 14, 1920 in Chula Vista, CA, and raised on one of two family ranches in Cloverdale. Survived by daughters Elizabeth (Jacques Langlois) and Suzanne (Doug Broberg), and grandson Ian Hutchinson. "Denny" attended Tamalpais School for Boys in Marin County. After high school he worked as a proofreader for the Denrich Press, his grandparents' printing business in San Diego, and then as a logger in Navarro with buddies Marty Griffin and Marty Hoffman. He went on to Santa Rosa JC and then enlisted in the Army, where he served stateside as an MP at the Japanese Relocation Camp in Manzanar. Shortly after that he adopted the first name of David. He continued his education at San Jose State, where he studied mechanical drafting, subsequently working for (Howard) Hughes Tool as a draftsman. He then earned a certificate in viticulture and enology at UC Davis so he could help in the family businesses, Caslamayomi Ranch (prunes, wine grapes and sheep) and Hollis Black Wines. After graduation David took a cruise to Europe with his parents on the Aquitania, sister ship to the Titanic, and met a stunning French Canadian girl named Elise Vautelet, who endeared herself to him by mending his torn trousers with a piece of the hem of her identically colored gray flannel suit. They exchanged letters for a year and then David went to Montreal to meet her family and to propose. Married in 1950, they were completely devoted to each other for 61 years. In 1954, David moved his young family (Elizabeth was born at the ranch) to Seattle, where Suzanne was born, and then to Los Angeles, where he sold and repaired Foregger anesthesia equipment. The family returned to the ranch in Cloverdale in 1962 when David's parents retired. David learned to fly in 1955 and became a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Commemorative Air Force. Always the renegade, he was crazy about flying and distinguished himself by breaking every rule there was, flying on a student pilot's license for 25 years before becoming an instrument rated pilot. In the 1960's David was the commander of Civil Air Patrol cadet squadron #115 in Santa Rosa, earning the rank of Major. In the late 1970's he sold the vineyards and orchards. He had already given up raising sheep due to problems with dogs and coyotes decimating the flock. Not to be deterred, David then decided to haul grapes and prunes for other ranchers, going into business with longtime ranch foreman Robert Lopez. He was always mechanically minded and probably loved cars as much as he loved flying. He was a member of the Nash Car Club and the Citroen Car Club, and often flew his private plane to car club meets. After selling the vineyard, David got his glider's license in Australia, and invested in a hot air balloon while a member of the EAA. He flew to Wisconsin for the annual EAA fly-ins, to Texas for the Confederate Air Force conventions, and even to Canada for vacations. David never lost his irreverent sense of humor and was making wise-cracks until he could no longer speak. He was a unique and memorable man, who wrote his own rules and lived on his own terms. He would want us all to eat, drink, and be merry, so after a private inurnment, there will be a celebration of his life at the 28225 River Road Cloverdale ranch house October 12th, 2013 from 1 to 5 p.m., where we will roast him and toast him and send him off Black style. Bring your favorite David Black story to share. Arrangements by Fred Young F. H. Cloverdale, 707-894-2540
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, 2013