DAVID SVENDSEN
1943 - 2017
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SVENDSEN, David Of Newton, 74, passed peacefully in his sleep Monday, September 25th. He was the beloved husband of Guna Svendsen and dearly cherished father of Dr. Sasha Svendsen. David is also survived by his sister, Judi Benson, and brother, Paul Svendsen, and the nieces and nephews of the Svendsen and Benson families. He was a son of Needham from birth and was treasured by his family and many friends. David was a graduate of Needham High School, Class of 1961, The University of Maine and went on to graduate work at Boston University. He poured his love and energy into service of the town and was widely recognized and welcomed by the community because of it. In his heart and soul, David was an educator who believed in building community through social activism. Most of all, David had a love for life and a special gift for sharing his passions with young people. He was a big thinker who lived large and truly believed that we could all make a difference, one person at a time … and he was grateful to be one of those people. Visiting hours will be held in the Eaton Funeral Home, 1351 Highland Ave, NEEDHAM, on Thursday, October 5th from 4-8pm. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend. A memorial celebration of his life will follow on Friday, October 6th at 11am at The Congregational Church of Needham, 1154 Great Plain Ave, Needham. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider Engaging Schools (www.engagingschools.org), formerly known as ESR. For full obit, directions or to share a memory of David, please visit www.eatonfuneralhomes.com Eaton Funeral Home 781-444-0201


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Published in Boston Globe from Sep. 26 to Oct. 1, 2017.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
OCT
5
Visitation
04:00 - 08:00 PM
OCT
6
Celebration of Life
11:00 AM
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62 entries
September 22, 2019
David I want you to know I think of you so often and I miss your smile, laughter, and intellectual spirit.

You would be so proud of your daughter shes doing so well in her career-God bless her.
Love you Seana and Bob
seana gaherin
Friend
February 4, 2018
I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I was a student in his 7th grade social studies class in Needham in the late 1960's. Whenever someone asks me who were the most influential people in my life, David Svendson is one of the them. Somehow in that class, he gave 12-13 yr olds, the belief that they were capable of thinking broadly and independently, and capable of researching and evaluating historical contexts leading up to current events. It was this belief in us, combined with his teaching us about things outside of the conventional textbooks, mostly about social justice and the power of a few, to create significant change, that made an impact on me at such a young age. I am forever appreciative of his gifts. My condolences to his family and friends.
Rhett Cahill
Student
October 21, 2017
Dearest Guna,

I am so, so sorry to learn of David's passing. You both were such an inspiration to so many of us. His memory will live on in our hearts.

Thinking of you and your daughter during this difficult time.
Joanne Pransky
October 16, 2017
My condolences to the Svendsen family. It has been several years since I last saw David but remember him as described in the obituary. He was a kind and engaging man. I enjoyed my connection with him very much.
Scott Tromanhauser, MD
Friend
October 11, 2017
Guna, What sad news! Dave was such an important part of our lives in the 70's. He took my fourth grade class on a memorable trip to Boston (he even managed to have us meet up with Carol Channing at the Pru)
He was a remarkable person and I cherish knowing both of you.
May wonderful memories keep you strong and bring you joy.

Ellie
Ellie Muldoon
Friend
October 10, 2017
Sending my sincere condolences to your family. May prayer be a great comfort to you during this time 1 Thessalonians 5:17
October 8, 2017

I am so sorry for your great loss. May the God who "binds up the brokenhearted" and "comforts all who mourn" (Isaiah 61:1, 2) sustain your family during this challenging time. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy.
October 8, 2017
Jdavid thanks for picking.me up in Springfield 41 years ago and housin an guiding me to a fantastic life . Have an enlightened journey Robert Watson,(Tonka)
October 6, 2017
Guna: I never met you or David, but in grade school my Dad took me to every Needham High School varsity basketball game. It was while watching David play that I decided that I would become a basketball player, as well. With David as a huge inspiration, I eventually became co-captain of Florida Southern College, tried out for, and was cut by the Celtics, and enjoyed a lifetime of playing basketball. My classmate, Kevin Clark used to keep me posted on Dave's annual lunch with some of his NHS former coaches. Dave will be remembered by many. Glenn Merkel, NHS '67
October 6, 2017
May David continuously rest in peace after his continuous devotion to those whom he loved.
Sandra Wadoski
October 5, 2017
Dear Guna:

This is Bob Case, from your and David's Seabrook Affinity group in the Fenway in the distant past.

I am so sorry to read of David's passing. We think of all of our friends of that time as still being very young. They are however young in spirit, rather than chronologically. Speaking of spirit, though David's achievements are extraordinary, there is nothing in the obituary that in the least surprised me, knowing the two of you.

The last time I saw you and David was at some event at the Community Church
in Copley Square and Sasha was a child. Please extend my con.dolences to her and to the entire family.

You and David have the closest of partnerships, and that is a measure of your present grief and what will, I pray, eventually be an incomparable joy.

Peace and joy to David, and to you who remain.
Bob
Robert Case
Friend
October 4, 2017
This condolence is an email exchange with my brother Ted Joyce, a college professor in NYC. Ted was a student of David's. I was a year behind Ted. I saw David at Newman but was not his student. I really thought David was too good for Newman, similar to Sidney Portier was too good for his school in the movie, To Sir With Love.' I wish I had David or Guna for teachers! David died on my birthday Sept. 25th. My oldest brother Christopher died at age 59, also on my birthday. Chris, and apparently David, were too good for this world !
Brad Joyce Needham

My email to Ted---

David Svendsen and his wife Guna were both teachers at Newman Junior High. They were a power couple. I did not have them for teachers. I remember Ted playing basketball against him in a student- faculty game. He was a stud in basketball. If it wasn't for him the students would have won.

Ted's email reply--
Brad,

I remember him well. He was so up beat and warm and spirited. He was unlike any other teacher at Newman. When did he retire?

74 is young but there was no mention of cause.

Thanks for sharing

T
Bradford Joyce
October 4, 2017
Guna, Chris and I remember dating with you and Dave, camping with Brian and Sasha, such fun! You are a strong woman Guna and I know how much you loved David. I cherished teaching with you all our years at Needham Hugh. David was a one of a kind educator andd a man with a vision to help students learn to love themselves. He has left an unselfish legacy that will always be remembered by Pollard and Needham High Schhol staff. Judy and Chris
Judy Radley Schoon
October 3, 2017
I can't imagine my high school years without Dave and Guna. Their generosity and kindness sustained and blessed me in a millions ways, and I treasure the time I spent with them. I am truly a better person because of their love. Thank you Dave for all you gave to me and to countless others. We are the lucky one. Mary Harrington Power
Mary Harrington Power
October 3, 2017
Dear Guna, sending you my heartfelt sympathy. I am so sad, but I am also filled with deep gratitude for our friendship over all these years. Wish I could be there.
Lawrence Johnson
October 3, 2017
Dear Sasha, I'm so sorry for your loss. My condolences to your mother as well. I only met your father briefly, but it's clear from the memories others have shared that he had an important impact on many lives. I can see his light shining in you... Love, Antonia
Antonia Chiesa
Coworker
October 2, 2017
My sympathies to David's family. I am saddened to hear of his premature death. He was a highly respected colleague as a teacher and administrator as well as a friend. Truly, David cared for children and was committed to their education. In addition he was a giving human being who wanted to and did make a great difference in people's lives. I recall with joy working with him when he ran for office. It was our loss that he did not get elected but he cared enough to run.
Fred Tirrell
Coworker
October 1, 2017
Dear Guna,
I was a student of yours and Dave's in the alternative program at NHS. You taught me Russian and Swahili. I have fond memories of both of you. I'm so sorry for your loss. May Dave's memory be a blessing to the many lives he touched.
Sending comfort and healing,
Judy (Jaffe) Pearl
Judy Jaffe-Pearl
Student
September 30, 2017
David was our class president from our freshman to senior year. In life he exhibited the great potential he had shown in high school. He became a great teacher, head master, education innovator, community activist. And more importantly a wonderful dad and a dear and loving husband. He is an honor to our class, the Needham High School Class of 1961, and our community is better because of David.
Len Semprucci
Friend
September 30, 2017
I remember him from High School, alternative, he was such a positive influence. Prayers and Love,
Rebecca Geary
September 30, 2017
Dave was a person to cherish. As a colleague many years ago, we met as he was building interest in alternative education at the high school level. Much later as a father we discussed long and often best options for Sasha to pursue as she approached post high school paths. I loved his outlook on life.
To Guna and Sasha my sympathy as you grieve his loss.
Mike Kelly
Friend
September 30, 2017
My heart is aching ! And our world will be missing a big chunk with out him in it !
This man was just one of a kind !
God Bless you David !
All our love,
Seana & Bob
seana gaherin
September 30, 2017
The good David we will never forget with his baby girl
seana gaherin
September 30, 2017
The delightful David with his pride and joy!
seana gaherin
September 29, 2017
Dear, Dear Sasha,

I am heartbroken for you and your mother. I send hugs to you both and will continue to keep you in my thoughts. May you feel at peace knowing that your father was so special to so many people and so very proud of you.
Cindy Tanner
September 29, 2017
Improbable Players mourn the passing of a friend, board member, and recovery advocate and will miss him very much. We have posted a rememberance on the players website: http://www.improbableplayers.org/about.html
Lynn Bratley
Friend
September 29, 2017
Sasha, I met your dad once at your residency graduation, and my memory of him is that he was BIGGER than I imagined, which was saying something because your face always glows when you start a sentence with "My dad..." He was physically bigger, taller than my imaginings, but immediately shared his big heart and hug with me, even though we had just met. I see now from reading your wonderful tribute that he was BIGGER than I had ever imagined. He has left a big footprint on all of those around him. My heart breaks for you and your mom, and I send you both that big hug your dad gave me on your graduation day.
Rebecca Moles
Friend
September 29, 2017
We are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave's passing. Our deepest sympathies to Guna and Sasha. I had a long and wonderful friendship with Dave, as an Alternative High School student and later as an adult returning to Needham. He never changed really, always kind and funny, always striving for knowledge and justice. Plugged In had the privilege of his service on our board for too short a time, but he had a deep understanding of our mission to reach out to kids in Needham. HIs presence and spirit will be sorely missed by the community and all that loved him.
Tom Pugh & Sandra Rizkallah
Tom Pugh
Friend
September 28, 2017
I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave. I have very fond memories of him. Rest In Peace.
Gloria Pineo-Oliveira
September 28, 2017
I am very sad to learn of David's passing.David was a great friend, whom was instrumental in my early years of sobbriety. His kindness and guidance will always be near to me. Remember the wonderful dinner at his house with Murph and David's lovely wife. The roof deck next to the church.Just a great guy.i know he loved his family unconditionally. Remember him calling me when Sasha got excepted to Medical school. He was so proud of her.
My since condolences to the family. He will be missed.
Doug Rodman
Friend
September 28, 2017
Dear Guna,

We are sorry for your loss and thinking of you.

Jan and Jack Pararas
September 26, 2017
I tremendously enjoyed working under David in the 90s. He was always very good to me, encouraging, funny, positive. David had a way of saying something with conviction. He really had a way of making you drink the Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean. I say that in the most respectful way. I know he would chuckle if he heard me put it that way. I was forever dazzled, entertained by his off-the-cuff, improvised speaking. I really didn't care what David what talking about; I was always game to listen to whatever he had to say whether it was in from of 400 seventh graders at Pollard Middle School or at a retirement party. He was a unique individual. He will be missed.
ken lundberg
Coworker
September 26, 2017
David was my first supervisor in teaching twenty four years ago. From the start we clicked in terms of what we valued about this world and what we perceived the special mission of education to be. I carry a part of him with me every day in the classroom. His belief in what we can do better together as a society and within our communities and his refusal to believe anything without researching it and thinking independently come to mind as inspirations he provided me. He beautifully combined a healthy and productive skepticism of our government's actions with a deep belief in humanity. I am grateful to have worked with him closely for a number of years and I am a better educator as a result.
Karl Kraus
Coworker
September 26, 2017
Guna, David was a fun loving, vibrant member of the Needham community and we will miss him. God strength to you and Sasha - may your love and memories bring you through this difficult time.
Abby Watt
Acquaintance
September 26, 2017
He was such a light for me during a crazy time when school was a place that just didn't work for me. He created an environment where I could thrive and be happy and be excited about learning. He has a special place in my heart. It was an honor to be his student and later his friend.
Susan Yardley
Student
September 26, 2017
Dear Guna and Sasha,

My deepest most heartfelt prayers go out to you both at this time. David was one of my most beloved clients Ever. He was a warm, kind, intelligent, thoughtful, and delightfully funny man. I will always cherish him dearly.

Much love to you both,

Natalie Spielberg
Natalie Spielberg
Friend
September 28, 2017
Guna and Sasha, we have no words. Our hearts break for you. We celebrate David for the life force he was. How we will miss him. With love forever, Andy and Sandy Olukalns
September 28, 2017
Dear Guna,
David's boundless energy, creativity, optimism, sense of humor and humanity will always be his legacy to all of us. What a joy and privilege it was to have known him and have worked with him in the Needham Schools.
Armand Kazarian
September 28, 2017
Sasha and family, I'm so so sorry to hear this news. My condolences to you and the whole family. Maxine
Maxine Schmeidler
Friend
September 27, 2017
Guna,
I'm so very sad to hear about Dave's passing. I was in town to attend our class of '72 reunion just this past weekend. I said to my husband Bill "I hope Guna and Dave are there". And then after flying back to Nevada on Sunday, I got up Monday to read that Dave had passed. I was so sad for you and your daughter. You and Dave are some of my favorite people from back then when I felt like I didn't fit in. You will be in my prayers.
Anne Judge Groener
Student
September 27, 2017
Guna & Sasha, I am so sorry for your loss. It is a loss for us all. Dave had a gift for understanding people. His visions and ideals have been a lasting influence since my years as a TEC student in the mid 1980's. He instilled in me a love for learning and life that will stay with me forever.
John Shea
September 27, 2017
Guna... Sending much love with prayers for blessings and rest... Lucy
Lucy Dudeney
September 27, 2017
Who said grown men do not cry? I have shed tears for Dave. One of my idols.
Walter Shields
Teacher
September 27, 2017
I'm very sorry to hear that David has passed away! So many of my family have met David, Guna and Sasha at our Burt Lake escape and have fond memories of Guna's parents as well. We shared special times and will remember David!
Colleen Barkham
Neighbor
September 27, 2017
My children basically assumed that David was a long-lost grandparent about 30 seconds after meeting him. With a mischievous sense of humor and twinkling eyes, he seemed to have an endless supply of trick spy sunglasses, prank retractable dollars, and one-liners that had the boys constantly in stitches. But it wasn't the props or the material that kept the kids in the palm of his hand - it was his willingness to roll around with them, and respect them and connect with them on their own level that did it. Sure, he could pull a quarter from behind your ear with the best of them, but the magic he brought came from inside him. He'll be sorely missed.
Dan Lindberg
Friend
September 27, 2017
DEAR GUNA AND SASHA
I WAS JUST TOLD THAT DAVID PASSED AWAY. I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! HOW I WILL MISS HIS WONDERFUL DISPOSITION AND WARM SMILE BUT HIS MEMORY I WILL NEVER FORGET.
TAKE CARE AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I CAN DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.

MARIO
MARIO BOCCABELLA
September 27, 2017
My condolences to my colleague Sasha and her mom on the passing of David. I met him once here on a visit to see Sasha during her training with our hospital program. I know how proud he was of his daughter and family - and clearly the love of education and supporting youth was central to his life. My thoughts are with you all during this hard time. ANDY
Andrew Sirotnak, MD
Coworker
September 27, 2017
Tom and I are so saddened to hear of Dave's passing. I remember Dave as always smiling and being a very patient and kind man. My thoughts and prayers go out to Guna and their daughter, Sasha.
Cheryl Duffy
September 27, 2017
I'm deeply saddened to hear that David's energy and passion have left us. He was a colleague and a friend through many years. I enjoyed his great sense of humor, especially his impersonations. I have the utmost respect for his consistent advocacy for the less fortunate, for education, for diversity and for carrying on the struggle despite opposition and indifference. At this time of year I always recall late afternoons, looking out from the front of Needham High School as the sun set while we worked to start up the Alternative Program, figuring out how to do something new and meaningful with a superb group of students and engaged parents. David was a man of many shining facets; I will not forget him.

I'm sorry I will be away on the day of his memorial service. My best to Guna and Sasha.
Phil Wallas
Coworker
September 27, 2017
George and I remember David as such a happy smiling dad. We spent many Saturdays with the Svendsons on the sidelines of the soccer field. He was such a loving Dad to Sasha. We are very sorry for your loss. George and Ginny Gardner
Ginny Gardner
September 27, 2017
Guna, I was saddened to hear of David's death. As a parent of NHS students as well as an Administrator there, I always regarded David with respect and admiration (loved those flowers on your desk). May you and Sasha find peace in loving memories.
Phyllis Uhl
Acquaintance
September 27, 2017
Guna and Sasha, I am so sorry to hear of David's passing. I send all my love and prayers to you both. David was my mentor and the reason I became a teacher and principal. I spent 25 years building alternative education programs and experiences with 4 school districts, always applying the lessons David taught me. His teachings live on.
Love to you both,
Robby Welch
Robby Welch
September 27, 2017
So sorry to hear of Mr Svendsen's passing. He was one of my favorite teachers may he rest in peace
Sharon Prager
Teacher
September 27, 2017
Dear Guna- David represented the very best of what teaching entails. I would not made it through high school without him, yourself, and the rest of the AHS staff. His memory will be a blessing to many.
Wishing you and yours love and solace- David Webb, AHS, 1974



David Webb
Student
September 26, 2017
Dear Guna,
So sorry to hear of Dave's passing.
David was a major influence in my life, he inspired us to dream big, and to believe in endless possibilities.
Sending lots of love to you from California.
Mark Governor
Mark Governor
September 26, 2017
Guna - my love to you and Sasha.
Susan Yardley
September 26, 2017
Sending healing prayers to Guna and family. Remembering Dave fondly from Needham High Alterative Program!
Much love,
Jodi Alperin
Jodi Alperin
September 26, 2017
Dear Guna,
I am so sorry to read of David's passing. I feel very fortunate to have known both of you when I was in the Needham Schools. My thoughts are with you and Sasha at this sad time.
Jen Jovin
Student
September 26, 2017
Guna, I'm so sorry to hear that Dave passed. I was hoping to see you both at the class reunion this pass weekend, I live in Nevada now, so I will not be able to come to the service. You and your daughter will be in my thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

Love, Anne Judge Groener
Anne Groener
September 26, 2017
My heart is with Guna and her daughter at this difficult time. Dave was my teacher way back in the 70s. I remember how he looked at Guna when 'no one knew' they were dating. As a teacher in the alternative program he helped me and so many others who struggled to not only stay in school but learn to find our place. I moved back to Needham when my daughter was in middle school. Somehow I felt better about the move when I saw he was a part of the school. Sarah had Guna for french in high school so the whole family touched our lives and hearts. Thank you for all you gave Dave. You will live on in the many lives you touched.
Cheryl Bain Lekousi
Student
September 26, 2017
Guna and Sasha,
Such a sad and difficult time. Wishing you peace to bring you comfort, courage to help you face the days ahead, and loving memories to hold forever in your heart. David will be missed by so many. Marie Baroni Allen
September 26, 2017
Many of my cherished memories of working in Needham are connected to crossing paths with David! His intelligence, humor and caring made a difference in a lot of young lives.
Michelle David
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