David E. Place

David Elliott Place, age 91, of Milton, MA, died peacefully at home on August 23, 2012. Brimming with passion for life's adventures, a pragmatic business acumen, and commitment to service, Place declared, "I've never been bored a day in my life!" Congenitally optimistic, Place rode the high seas of life, literally and figuratively. At age 17, he and two friends purchased Seaboots, a vessel that was, at the time, underwater; for the cost of six wooden barrels, they resurrected the sailboat by lashing ropes to its rails at low tide and raising the ship as the tide came in. Until age 80, he intrepidly sailed his ketch, Arabella, Down East and beyond to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He reveled in the magnificence of the Maine woods and skied the winter slopes of New Hampshire. The Place dinner table was always set for drop-in guests who didn't mind dogs and boisterous chaos. Place attended Milton Academy (Class of '39) and Harvard College (Class of '43). At Harvard, he managed the Harvard football team, campaigned for Wendell Willkie for President, and joined the Navy ROTC; upon graduation, fellow students voted him their permanent Class Secretary. When a broken leg disqualified Place from Navy assignment, he took a Third Mate license and piloted U.S. hospital ships in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Following the war, Place returned to Harvard Law School (Class of '48) and then joined the law firm of Ely, Bradford, Thompson, and Brown. From 1953-55, he was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and then Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney. In over five decades of legal work with Gaston Snow & Ely Bartlett, as Managing Partner for 15 years, and subsequently Choate Hall & Stewart from 1991, Place "never turned down a request for assistance," writing client wills and trusts, advising new and venerable business ventures as legal counsel and trustee (The Fort Dupree Company, Greylock Management Corp, McCrillis Land Association among many), as well as springing wayward kids out of jail. His late friend, Robert Sceery of Cohasset, gave his own children one piece of advice: If you are ever in trouble, remember just one number: "1943" -- Place's Harvard class year and telephone number. Place was known for his philanthropy, setting a personal example and urging of wealthy clients to share their good fortune with good causes. Active in politics, Place worked on both sides of the aisle, with U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George W Bush and Massachusetts Governors Endicott Peabody, William Weld, and Deval Patrick. He consistently advocated a progressive social agenda in his political life. When not steering a sailboat, Place served at the helm of innumerable public and non-profit enterprises. Among his most personally meaningful public assignments: Cohasset Town Moderator (1969-1980), General Counsel to the U. S. Department of the Air Force (1981-1984), Deputy Commissioner to the U. S. Arms Control Standing Consultative Commission (1984-1986), and Chairman of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Council (1991- 1996). He served on diverse Boards of Directors and Corporations, such as the Jackson Laboratory, New England Deaconess Hospital, Mass General Hospital, Boston YMCA, International Institute of Boston, Dana Hall School, Boston Public Library, McCrillis Land Association, and the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations. Place's embrace of life and genuine interest in everyone he met won him a lifetime of endearing friendships. Above all, his life exemplified values he instilled in those around him: loyalty, integrity, active citizenship, gratitude, and service to others. Ken Paigen, geneticist and former Director of the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, wrote the following tribute when Place stepped down from the Board after 30 years: "To David: friend, advisor, legal sage, and source of worldly wisdom; even more an unfailing source of support and encouragement..." David Place is survived by his wife, Susanna Badgley Place, of Milton, MA, and their children, Louise and Alexander Place; his former wife, Penelope G. Place, of Cohasset, MA, and their children, D. Elliott Place, Richard Place, Penelope Gleason, and Josiah Place, and four grandchildren, Nathan Place, Rachel Place, Isaac Place, and Mark Place; as well as his brother, H. Calvin Place, of Wellesley, MA. A celebration of David's life will be held on September 8th at 2 pm, at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 112 Randolph Ave, Milton, MA; a reception will follow at his home at his home at 224 Adams Street, Milton. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in David Place's name to The Epiphany School in Dorchester, MA (http://epiphanyschool.com) or The Island Education Fund at the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine (http://www.islandinstitute.org.)

Published in The Cohasset Mariner from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3, 2012