David Curtis Churchman
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David Curtis Churchman

of Indianapolis, IN passed away Monday evening, 12/28/15. He was 82. He was born in Indianapolis, the second son to Michael Steele Bright Churchman and Luita (Lee) Churchman. David attended IPS 43 and IPS 84 and graduated from Broad Ripple High School in 1951. He was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity and graduated from Purdue University in 1955 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Suma Cum Nada. Upon his graduation, Dave served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for two years undertaking a survey of lands in Libya. He returned to Indianapolis in 1958 and began a career with M.S. Churchman Co., a family business. David married Charlene Rae Rockhill in 1961. They raised four children: Curt, Liz, Andrew and Matthew. All attended North Central High School and have degrees from IU and Purdue (Andrew!). 

Dave worked for M.S. Churchman Co. his entire career eventually becoming President in 1977. M.S. Churchman Co. was liquidated in post-recessionary 1984.

A voracious reader and an impassioned collector, trader, (humble) aficionado, published author, dealer, dabbler, impresario - Dave had many and vast interests and pursued those with focused, bohemian glee in his post-business years. These interests (which invariably yielded collecting therein) ran far afield - cigar bands, fountain pen tips, drawer pulls, antique letter openers, philately, etc.  Yet his one lifelong passion was letterpress printing. It grabbed him as a Northside boy and after college, he fell hard. Letterpress printing was his joy and obsession for the past sixty years. Throughout his adult life he bought, sold, acquired and accumulated an ever-increasing collection and inventory of letterpress stock - type and cases, presses, cutters, trimmers, ephemeral hardware, tools, casters, specimen books, etc. Dave was known throughout the nation and internationally as an authoritative expert and trusted dealer of all things letterpress. He will be featured in an independent documentary film, Pressing On, which chronicles the current mini-renaissance in letterpress printing. His printing press shared the marquee in the 1992 Smithsonian Institution exhibit The Boy and His Press. The letterpress diaspora mourns his loss. Dave was a past member the Indianapolis Jaycees, the Indiana Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization and a current member of the Junto of Indianapolis. He was a member of the Indianapolis Racquet Club where he regularly played rounds of his beloved tennis.

He is survived by his wife, Charlene Churchman, his brother Michael Steele Churchman, Jr. of Philadelphia; his children, David Curtis Churchman, Jr., Elizabeth Dix, Andrew Steele Churchman, Matthew Rockhill Churchman and four grandsons.  And his cat, Mac.

Family and friends will gather on Sunday, January 3, 2016 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel. Funeral Service will be held on Monday, January 4, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. at Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association.

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Published in The Indianapolis Star on Dec. 31, 2015.
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Memories & Condolences
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39 entries
January 23, 2016
He was such a kind and hilarious soul. I have fond memories of spending time with him and the family many years ago. My condolences to you all.
January 8, 2016
January 8, 2016
January 8, 2016
January 7, 2016
January 6, 2016
Dave was a ... Well, Dave had a...when guys would ask me if they could bring there wife by just long enough to see my shop, I always thought immediately of David Churman because I wasn't 10 feet inside his house of treasures before I asked him the same question. I instantly knew, here was a man whose passion and enthusiasm would occupy as much space and time in his life as needed and I could show my spouse, that there was a man who was bitten with a bug worse than mine. There are few caves of treasure guarded by a giant that rival Dave's. I can say that I found many a treasure there and to my wife's great relief I added as much over the years as I took away. Doing business with Dave Churchman was always great fun, often greasy, dusty, and sweaty, but great fun. In recent years our relationship has been over the phone. Six months ago, I called the house and spent over an hour talking with Charlene. What a family.The boys were teens last time I remember seeing them. It has been too long since I visited and I found out about Dave's passing because we had planned to visit this very week. Dave was helpful to a novice. Dave was enthusiastic about partnering on a buyout opportunity with an amateur. Dave was more than fair when buying from me as I became a fellow collector. I have many many tools and there are places in my life that require a flashlight. I love people and I knowledge, but I come up way short if I even begin to compare myself to this larger than life man that was Dave Churchman. He planted many seeds that will assure that his memory lives on and hopefully much of what Dave knew will come together again in such a rare and truly individual person, but I suspect it will be a long time coming.
Michael Dorsa
January 5, 2016
I enjoyed being Dave's tenns partner for a number of years at the IRC. He had one of the nastiest cut serves around. He was very competitive and a hoot to play with and against. Tennis was always fun when you played with Dave. Dave helped with one of the most important events of my life. He helped create wedding items for my daughers wedding. We spent a couple of afternoons printing the items with a printing press in his basement. I'll miss him.
Dwight Chernish
January 5, 2016
I will miss Prof. Darsnaffle's (sp?) pyrotechnic extravaganzas. Love to all.
Dave Snouffer
January 5, 2016
Liz, we are saddened to learn of your father's death. We hope that time will ease your grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Jim Schmidt and Mary B. Nicolini
January 3, 2016
We were blessed to know Dave through the letterpress industry.
Many calls and emails in search of parts and knowledge.
He generally had both! We had the opportunity to meet with Dave at shop. Bring a flashlight and bread crumbs! An amazing collection of treasures, and he knew where everything was.
A man that wanted to see the art of letterpress continue.
Our condolences to the family.
Tom & Terri Kartes T & T Press Restoration
January 3, 2016
A loss to the letterpress community, a spot that will not be easily filled. We are privileged to have known him and our prayers are with Charlene and the family.
Karen & George Chapman
January 2, 2016
May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always
American Heart Association
January 2, 2016
January 2, 2016
Curt Churchman
January 1, 2016
Curt Churchman
January 1, 2016
Dave Churchman was a long distance friend. I have been passionate about his kind of printing these many years, living as I have for a lifetime in central Georgia. Thus I never met Dave nor had the singular delight of visiting him in Indianapolis, but by telephone and by mail he was a prince of a friend. I received his equipment sales mail out at a very young age and studied his descriptions thoroughly. The circular had an attractive personality that must have reflected the unique man he was. Most recently (in 2012)I contacted him for advice on a large Colts Armory press I had located and wanted to buy from a private owner. He was instantly interested and full of helpful advice by phone and by letter and would followup with letters inquiring as to the progress of my Colts Armory project and the shipping of the press back from NYC. We talked about the premature death of our 33 year old son in 2011 and his spoken and written words of comfort were deeply and generously solicitous. I realized then what a great and loving soul he possessed and felt the strongest regret that we had never met and sat across from one another with the unforgettable talk of two traditional printers-one the wiser and I his awe struck student. The loss is mine entirely. Curt he enjoyed telling me about your press restoration work. Seemed very proud and admiring of it. He spoke with great love of his wife and of his family. How movingly sad to receive this news on the first day of the new year.
William J. (Bill) Murray
Americus, Georgia 31709
January 1, 2016
I got a few of these over 30 years ago
Dave Churchman was a very funny guy. Unlike many funny people, his goal was not to draw attention to himself (well maybe a little), but to share a laugh and brighten the mood of all around him. I was Dave's neighbor as a teenager and knew him as a friend and mentor. I am certain that my regular use of humor in life was mainly influenced by him because I saw how happy he made everyone, whether he was Professor Darsnaffel putting on a fireworks display in the street or dropping a one liner that had me laughing even years later (Hey Dave, why is your dog named Carpenter? Because he does odd jobs around the house).
But Dave was a true friend who cared deeply about other people and helping them get what they need. He could make any task fun. Here's an excerpt from a recommendation letter to graduate school that he wrote for me in April, 1975: In these troubled times when some of our offspring are turning up with strange values, Jim stands out as a model citizen. All of which is not to say he will soon be elevated to sainthood, but he appears to me to have his head screwed on straight when a lot of his peers have not.
There were over 300,000 babies born the day that Dave left us. I hope that there was at least one who will bring as much joy, wisdom, and goodness to a world that desperately needs it.
Jim Stone
January 1, 2016
After playing tennis with dave over the past few years I can see where Curt got his dry sense of humor. I really enjoyed the matches with Dave and will miss him making every match fun.
Greg Willett
January 1, 2016
Dave was one of a kind, I will sure miss him, condolences to you and the family
Tom Williams
January 1, 2016
What a life well led! I know he will be greatly missed. He sounds like a man who always loved learning and engaging fully in life. I don't know all your siblings, but see many of his wonderful qualities, quick wit, and tenacity played out in your life, Curt!
Thinking of your family and celebrating his life with you!
Sarah Stackhouse Mead
January 1, 2016
Professor Darsnafell and his amazing pyrotechniques certainly amazed all those of us lucky enough to live on Ridgeland Drive.

I will never forget the invitations he printed for my 16th birthday party. On top of the official invites was one with a rather risqué theme. My mom was, shall I say , surprised. ♡
Kathy Stone Tonetti
January 1, 2016
Thank you all the very sweet thoughts on Dave's passing. That 'gloves and flashlight' story is hilarious! Feel free to share more amusing anecdotes -- he was quite the funny personality.
Curt Churchman
January 1, 2016
Memories of my far too infrequent meetings with Dave over the past three decades bring a smile to my face. The auctions, the Boutique de Junque, the manse...... Interesting is a word that barely describes Dave, he will be missed.

Rick von Holdt, Minburn, IA
December 31, 2015
I have a few mementos from Dave's Boutique de Junque as well as from the many APA auctions he and Dave Peat ran, and they are treasured remembrances of a great letterpress enthusiast. He will certainly be widely and deeply missed.
Bob Oldham
December 31, 2015
Dave was a dear friend and fellow hobby printer for well over 30 years and I dread the fact that I no longer will be getting letters from Elmo Snit, or Bestus Festus. His humor was ever present and his kind heart obvious. My love goes out to Charlene and their family.
Rich Hopkins
December 31, 2015
Thank you for your service to this country! Sounds like you led a great life! God bless the family! God be with all of you+++ Amen.
Carol Harrison
December 31, 2015
Thank you Mr. Churchman for sharing your love of letterpress with the world. You will truly be missed.
Jill Broadhacker
December 31, 2015
So sorry to hear about your Dad, Curt. What an interesting man with interests dovetailing into yours.
Kitty Shepherd
December 31, 2015
I'm so very sorry to hear of Dave's passing. I will always remember with great joy, my visits to his amazing warehouse of letterpress treasures. Dave always said, "bring gloves and a flashlight"
I felt like I was in type heaven! I will treasure the small,press I bought from Dave, and will think of him each time I use it.
he will be missed. in sympathy, Janet Webber
Janet Webber
December 31, 2015
I will miss Dave, he was a good friend. Cy McQuigg
December 31, 2015
Dave was famous among young and old letterpress printers who are keeping the art and craft of fine book printing alive. He collected and supplied those people with the ultimate attic of treasures along with his great humor. We'll miss him, but he he'll continue to be in our thoughts whenever ink and hot type impress paper.

Kathryn & Howard Clark, Twinrocker
Kathryn Clark
December 31, 2015
What a wonderful friend & tennis partner. You will be sadly missed.I remember our first tennis meeting over 30 years ago & the hundreds of times we played as partners since then. I particularly remember the many hours we logged setting in the lounge after tennis talking long after everyone else had left. Sharon & I offer our prayers &condolences to Charlene & your family.
Stan & Sharon Dickson
December 31, 2015
I never new you personally but have heard so many great things about you in the letterpress world. You'll surely be missed. Press on.
December 31, 2015
I will miss him. If I ever needed anything for my Press he managed to have it. When I visited his shop a few years back, he handed me a flashlight and said to me "what you are looking for is right over there." "There" was actually a mountain of stuff. But I found what I needed. Scary.

Rest in Peace APA #308.
Ernie Blitzer APA #649
December 31, 2015
The world will miss Dave's knowledge and wisdom and friendship. But most of all, we'll miss his awesome sense of humor. He made life fun for everyone around him. Somewhere in Printer's Heaven, a printer's devil is learning what printer's drawers are.
Gregory Walters
December 31, 2015
Dave, or "El Snitzer" as he called himself, will be sadly missed by his tennis friends. He was known for his "old as dirt" T-shirt and crazy spins. Dave would often throw down his racquet in jest, which was always followed by his infectious laugh. We are sure he will be playing tennis in heaven.
Frank & Barb Catanzarite
December 31, 2015
Lawd, We will so miss his knowledge and more so his friendship in the APA. He was funny and giving and a true friend.
Bruce McDonald, APA 56
December 31, 2015
Rest Peacefully Mr. Churchman.
Barb Francis Hauser
December 31, 2015
Dave was a great person, he helped me find many treasurers. He even left impressions on my young daughters. You Dave will be sadly missed. Long live the memories. A letterpress friend.
Theo Bell
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