David DeFina, age 65, died on June 29, 2014, surrounded by loved ones. He was preceded in death by his Father, Albert DeFina, his Mother, Elizabeth Ray DeFina, and his beloved dog Roscoe. He is survived by his cherished life partner, Rose Goodson, their two dogs, Sugar and Pearl, his Grandson, Tony Goodson, as well as his sisters, Linda Miles (Robert) of Tallahassee, Dana Moxley (Walter) of Callahan, Florida; his brother Patrick of Squaw Valley, California; nephews, Brett Cooper and Michael Moxley, neice Mary Meadors, three grandneices and one grandnephew.David is also survived by many loving family members in South Georgia.
David was a lifelong Tallahassee resident loved by many because of his generous spirit, his acts of kindness, and his determination to live life to its fullest. He was a rugged individualist who loved the outdoors and was filled with creativity and exuberance.David's creative gifts were most evident in his contracting and carpentry work. His favorite creation was the house he built and shared with Rose on Dog Island. The house is a work of the heart and evidence of his skills and artistry abound there. The centerpiece of the house is the spiral staircase he designed and built to allow friends to enjoy "the best sunset view on Dog Island" from the widow's walk atop the house.
David was part of a cadre of children who hung out in either side of Bradford Road and any readers who belonged to that troop know who you are and are aware of your many capers.In the 1950's, Bradford Road was near the edge of town surrounded by woods and provided the perfect environment for adventurous and audacious boys.
Growing up in Tallahassee, David attended Sealy elementary, Raa Middle School and Leon High where he was known as smart, spirited and resolute. In elementary school he was a fan of superheroes and could be found running around the neighborhood with a towel around his neck as a cape honing his future personality of uncompromising toughness and heartfelt compassion.A childhood friend remarked that even the coaches could not break his spirit because he could laugh in the face of pain.
He excelled at baseball with genetic gifts from his Father, Albert, who was once roomed with Joe Dimaggio when they played in the minor leagues in New York. When he first played Cub League at Winthrop Park, David met his lifelong friend, Barry Burkhart.Barry described David as his "intentional brother," the one he got to pick, remembering David as having a soft heart and hard head, a fierce competitor and good friend. They enjoyed the gift of a lifelong friendship.
He attended Florida State University where he majored in history although he decided that his side job in construction was a better choice for his career.He became a licensed contractor who specialized in artistic ventures and creative uses of wood. There was a brawny beauty is his carpentry that David considered his art.
David was a Vietnam era veteran who served in the Coast Guard and theatrically told stories about boot camp at Cape May and life at sea. His love of telling a good story endured throughout his life.
His jocular manner in the face of pain and challenge was admired and appreciated by many. He knew how to pick up fear, stare it down and laugh at the incongruities and uncertainties of life.David's personal philosophy was based on inclusion, equality and liberation. He had friends from all walks of life… lawyers, politicians, construction workers, musicians, FSU football players, fishermen, and college professors. Gifted with a quick intellect and hefty vocabulary, he was a favored collaborator in scrabble.He was a democratic charmer sometimes with a smile, sometimes with wisdom, often with wit and other times with a brash challenge.
He spent the last twelve years with his cherished partner, Rose Goodson, enjoying life and dividing time between the home he built on Dog Island and a country setting in Tallahassee.They grew much of their own food and ate the fish they caught. One of David's greatest joys was cooking favorite dishes for family and friends. David was someone who knew how to survive with his own wits and hands.
A Celebration of his Life will be held on July 12, 2014 from 2-4 PM at 3007 Cavanaugh Court, Tallahassee.
Donations can be made in his name to Big Bend Hospice in lieu of flowers.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat on July 9, 2014