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David Rigler

1921 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
David Rigler Obituary
David Rigler
April 9, 1921 - April 4, 2014
Resident of Santa Cruz
David Rigler was a creative, wise, warm, and thoughtful man. He was a natural engineer and technologist with a wealth of knowledge in many diverse fields. As a deeply caring humanist, he volunteered his time and thoughts to help others and be engaged with people. As a self-learner, he was a modern Renaissance man with a lifelong curiosity and thirst for knowledge. All his life, he was a progressive activist and supporter of civil rights.
David was part of that 'greatest generation'. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1921, the son of Romanian Jewish immigrants, and he came of age during the Great Depression and WWII. His mother, Sophie, was educated, strong-willed, and fluent in 9 languages while his father, Bernard, was soft spoken and a self-made business man.
As a child, David taught himself about electricity, electronics and mechanical things by taking apart phones, cameras, and watches. In high school he excelled at the classes he liked and was content to ignore the rest. He remembered and used high school French and German, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus throughout his life. Yet, he would also cut classes to catch the latest films and listen to Benny Goodman and other musicians of that time.
He served in the Panama Canal Zone during WWII, helping to develop and install early radar stations. He learned Spanish, explored areas of Guatemala and El Salvador, and took photos of the local residents.
Returning home to attend college on the GI Bill, David graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio University and received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan. His career as a child psychologist included positions at the University of Colorado in Denver, the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, and 14 years as Chief Psychologist at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and Professor of Psychology at USC.
David met his life-long love, Marilyn, at Ohio University. They were married in 1948. Always inseparable, they would have celebrated their 65th anniversary this year.
David and Marilyn retired and moved to Santa Cruz in 1983. He used his talents in woodworking, electrical work and plumbing first to design, and then to serve as general contractor in building their home.
The couple also immersed themselves in the community. At Temple Beth El, they revived and expanded the annual Jewish Film Festival. They served on the national board of US SERVAS, a peace and travelers' organization, and helped create their first website. David was KUSP's part-time engineer for Marilyn's radio interview hour, and served on their board. He taught computer literacy at Santa Cruz Adult School and helped found the Senior Computer Center of Santa Cruz. David also served on the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Commission.
Always armed with a camera, David was an avid photographer. He started 80 years ago, as a child with Kodak Brownie and darkroom, transitioning in recent years to digital SLR and Photoshop.
David died peacefully April 4, 2014 surrounded by family. He is survived by wife Marilyn, children Mark (Judi), Joel (Celsa) and Sara (Andrew), grandchildren Sumi (Tom), Isaac, Benjamin, Nathaniel, Samuel, and Tali, and great grand-child Huxley. He was deeply loved by many people. We will miss him forever. He will be remembered as he lived his life - forever young.
Donations may be sent in his honor to Temple Beth El, The Southern Poverty Law Center, or Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
A memorial website has been created in his honor:


Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Apr. 13, 2014
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