David John Thaden
October 22, 1956 - May 10, 2019
David John Thaden, of Chapel Hill, NC, passed away on May 10, 2019 after an extended battle with multiple myeloma. He was 62. David was born on October 22, 1956 in East Lansing, MI to Dr. Donald Thaden and Mary Alice Wilcox Thaden. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1979 and immediately thereafter began work as an English teacher at Guy B. Phillips Junior High School, the start of a 30-year career with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. At Phillips, David also served as coach for the football and girls' basketball teams, English Department chair, athletic director, assistant principal and, in 1991, as interim principal. He subsequently served as assistant principal for Chapel Hill High School from 1991-95 before accepting the honor to serve as the first principal of East Chapel Hill High School, which he did from its inaugural school year in 1996 through the graduating class of 2009.
While working full time, David earned a Masters of Arts in English from the Breadloaf School of English, Middlebury College, and was a Doctoral Student in Educational Administration and Supervision at UNC Chapel Hill.
David nurtured East from its initial enrollment of 605 students into a perennial top-100 high school nationally with a student body that eventually exceeded 1,800. His passion for developing and empowering his talented teaching staff fostered an ideal learning environment and established an institution beloved by teachers, parents and students alike. David was named Principal of the Year by CHCCS in 1996 and the Best Principal in the Triangle by The Independent in 2009. Following his retirement from East in 2009, David soon returned to his original passion, teaching humanities part-time at the North Carolina School of Science and Math from 2010 until 2018.
Those who had the privilege to know David were blessed by his warm sense of humor and unfailingly positive attitude, which, along with his striking intelligence and deep empathy, will be sorely missed by those he leaves behind. David is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Barbara Thaden, his two adoring sons, Michael and Matthew Thaden, and his family in Michigan: his brothers Tom and Jim Thaden, his sisters Anne and Jane Thaden, his niece Mackenzie Brefka, and his nephews, Kennett, Garrett, Alex and Jonathan Thaden.
A memorial service will be held on June 8th at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 227 E Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, at 11:00am, with a visitation to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at www.holytrinitychapelhill.org/giving
or to The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation at www.themmrf.org
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Published by The News and Observer on May 19, 2019.