remembering dave


daveWhen I saw the email in my inbox from my ex-husband's sister, I knew in my heart that it couldn't be good news. I hadn't heard from Dave in nearly three years, despite an attempt to contact him two years ago when we were at the beach near his home in Pensacola. This year I hadn't bothered to try, assuming that he didn't want to see us.

What I didn't know was that on August 28th, while we were just a few miles away, Davison Lewis Tudder passed away in a Pensacola hospital. His sister said he'd been sick for several years, but mental health issues that had plagued him since his father's death in '96 had caused him to become reclusive and unwilling to see a doctor. By the time his mother's housekeeper forced him to go to the hospital in May, he was in the advanced stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

We were married for three years, and I know that most of that was a happy time for him. I hoped that after we split up, he'd find someone else and go on to have a happy and full life. It broke my heart to find out that instead he had spent the last eight years fighting both mental and physical illnesses.

There's not much I can do at this point, except grieve his death--and remember his life. And share it with you, so that you'll know that he made a difference in the world.

He was smart and funny, generous and caring.

When we divorced, he insisted on paying half of my car payments so that I wouldn't have to sell my very safe Honda Prelude and buy another car. That Prelude eventually saved my life, and my children's lives, when we were hit by a truck in 1999.

Everyone who knew him had at some point received a complex diagram drawn on a napkin...he was so full of ideas and information that it spilled out of him, and he loved explaining technical concepts. A quick search of Usenet finds a slew of articles in which he patiently and clearly explained to people on audio and computer newsgroups how to perform specific tasks.

He quit college before he finished, but his knowledge and intelligence earned him a place as an engineer at a number of major telecom companies. He worked on MCI's first implementation of SS7, which I didn't appreciate at all until I had to teach about it during my first years at RIT. I called him then, and ruefully admitted my regret at not having paid more attention to those napkin diagrams.

He was extraordinarily patient, and was one of those people who knew that everyone has a story worth hearing if you're willing to stop for long enough to listen carefully.

He died nearly alone, estranged from his friends and most of his family. But even if he'd drifted away from the people who'd been touched by him, I suspect that most of us hadn't forgotten him. I wish I could have told him that before he died. I hope that some of his old friends will tell us that here in the comments.

Tonight I grieve the loss of a good man, a man I once loved, a man who deserved a longer and richer life.


I too was very fond of Dave, and I am grateful to you for writing this eloquent tribute. You speak for all of us. Love, Mom

I, too, have fond memories of Dave, particularly his amazing penchant for the technical. He was one of those persons a technophile like me meets and wonders why we didn't meet sooner. I went on a few outings with him to some amazing places he had heard about and through shear dint of will we got in - to the Army parallel processing facilty, among others. He seemed always to be delighted in the things humans can create and never despaired those who didn't understand as he did - in fact he delighted in trying to explain things to others - sometimes it seemed like he was trying to explain an alphabet to a dog but patient he was and kind.

I'm so sorry that he drifted away and then disappeared. I didn't try to track him as my life had taken a turn for the more complicated and there were other things which drew my attention away.

Even if it seems that he died alone and in some sort of purgatory between Heaven and Earth, I'm sure that inside he was still delighted at the things he had come across and the future of it all. He was, and I'm sure died, a very optimistic person.

I truly lament his passing and truly cherish those outings where he led others - like me - to wondrous places with wondrous things to behold. I only have fond thoughts of Dave and that's how it shall remain.

I find myself feeling a bit of a heel. I lost track of many of the people from those days of the orignal TMABBS when I moved out of DC. That's my fault. But that's not what makes me feel like a blob right now. I have fond memories of the people, not least of which include Dave, but if you held me feet to the fire I still couldn't recall a story like Chas just did. For that I feel saddened and a bit ashamed. I recall Dave as a kind, intelligent, and eloquent man. A good man (a mensch) as Liz said. I wish I could recall more details, more's the pity that I can't.

I'll settle for remembering a time when, in so many ways, things seemed more exciting, fresh, and new. Dave was a part of that and for that I am grateful.

"There���s not much I can do at this point, except grieve his death���and remember his life. And share it with you, so that you���ll know that he made a difference in the world."

Thanks for giving us the gift that Dave is.  Bless you.

Wow, Liz... I am sorry to hear about Dave's death. I always enjoyed his company when we got together. I remember him as being intelligent and his wry sense of humor. Please pass my condolences along to his family.

I have an unconnected series of recollections regarding Dave. Forgive me if it reads like a Larry King column.

One of my favorite nenirues (or, memories, if you don't hallow keyboa errors) is of a Fourth of July game of charades at (I think) Chas Redmond's. Not satisfied with a mildly obscure song title, Dave went for obscure AND impossible: the Bruce Hornsby song "That's Just the Way it Is." I don't think my side even completed one word. Okay, YOU try to successfully convey that in pantomime or whatever it is one does in charades. Dave was like that though, brilliant, playful, funny, subtle.

Speaking of Bruce Hornsby: Dave once broke out his flute and jammed with Bruce Hornsby years and years ago in Virginia Beach or Newport News or Norfolk. The event happened I think in a neighbor's garage or driveway and was years before Bruce Hornsby became a prominent enough musician to confound me at parlor games. I think Dave ran into Hornsby years after the jam session and Hornsby remembered him, vaguely, but he remembered him because Dave was unique and unforgettable. And he wasn't unique like we're all unique, like "everything is beautiful in its own way." Dave was qualitatively different and actually original.

When he and Liz were living in DC, he bought an album that a band was selling door to door. I am certain he did it only because he was tickled with the band's name: " the Jungsters."

The phrase "mean time between failure" occasionally rolls around to the front of my brain because he planted it there. I also recall him telling me that his Mac (I think a Mac Plus at the time) was a computer when he was using it but a paperweight at all other times because he had to be using it as a computer for it to be a computer.

And I can still hear his voice, a little high, full of thoughtful pauses as he tried to find a constructive response to something clumsy, uninformed, off-point, or wrong that I had said. "Yeah...yeah..." he'd begin. Then, after a while, like all good teachers, he'd connect the dots for me but make me feel like I did the work.

Dave tumbled into my mind -- his bliss at the Birchmere, his sparkle during a heated game of coins and toes, his giving-warm-geeky energy during an evening of Twin Peaks and scrabble.

Times shared with Dave and then Liz & Dave were among some of the best times i had in the DC area. I have missed Dave. Just a couple of weeks ago, he brought a smile to my face when i told a friend about his very earnest claim (with that particular tone and intensity) that the newly-on-the-scene Sheryl Crowe "... really knows how to use a mike..." followed, of course, with an animated explanation as to why such a thing counts as a real accomplishment.

Now my heart breaks for him. Man o man did i cry when i read Liz's email. I remember him withdrawing and wish i had tried to follow him a bit more. Why did i let such a tender soul wander off without greater concern? Was it my social discomfort when he began to drift because i thought it related to his divorce? Did my own insecurities make me selfish when i felt him distance from our friendship? Maybe i stumbled to avoid acknowledging my confusion about the apparent seriousness with which he began to speak of things like his short list.

Then again, maybe nothing was amiss. People shine and then fade in our lives as we share different times and parts of ourselves with others.

I wish I could buy that comfort myself. Somehow, today, about Dave, I cannot.

The best I can do for Dave is to try my best to learn not to let my personal discomfort, fear, insecurity, or defensiveness interfere with my continuing to be a caring friend to those that matter to me.

Dave I miss you. I hope I told you that I loved you.


Oh, Dave.

I share the memories of most above: surely he was the most instrumental in buying the hard disk that allowed TMMABBS to flower; we played the flute together; he explained the physics of sound to me, too, complete with napkins. He was a sometime techie for a R&R band that I was in, and tweaked our PA in my basement for hours on end. I actually had an email from him sometime in the last two or three years, now lost. I have many things to thank him for, the last of which is this time to share thoughts of him with old, lost friends. Thanks, Liz, for letting us know.

This is sad news indeed. I remember with fondness Dave's late-night messages on TMMABBS. Sometimes long and rambling, sometimes funny, always intelligent and interesting.

My heart just broke when I read Liz's message. Everything said above, of course, goes for me and Elizabeth (the former as-you-know-her Beth). Talking today, we echoed all the same thoughts, how gentle, endearing, funny and just plain good-hearted and nice Dave was. We both had our own elaborated cocktail napkin nenirues. We both feel a palpable sense of loss, even despite not knowing when it was we last saw him. (TT Reynolds, Tel's band?) Doesn't matter; he was that genuine. For what it's worth, I know Liz posted a link to this elsewhere, but you will all no doubt remember one of the funniest, and now most poignant and touching (well, I think anyway) things you ever saw online, here.

Even at sad occasions like memorial services, it's good to see people. In this case, it's good to see all these names and thoughts in one place again.

(these days at: ba 'at' rhumba 'dot' com)

Brian, thanks for that link. I hadn't seen it, and was thinking of that very thread yesterday. Thinking about Dave.

Dammit it is so so sad. It was good to go to the tmmabbs site and see what good friends we all were... there was something special there, i tell ya.

Reading the ramblings, the names, the explanation of the charm... i begin to get a first inkling of what blogging might really be about... Blogging seems to bring back some of the intimacy and community there was online pre-Internet.

I have a (n apparently) random thought (sidestepping determinism debate...) I remember Mike Cuthbert's show on BBSs... I am almost certain Tel was his guest, but I have a memory very unlike a sponge, one might even say like a sieve. Anyway, I called into the show and got in the phone queue... I was calm. Ready to say something important on how meeting people on the internet let you meet each other as -- people -- in an important way... abstracting away from factors that ought not matter to how we value each other.

It mattered to me... For richer for poorer, for shyer or bolder, for younger or older, in sickness and in health, in happiness and in pain, in thinness and chunkiness, in the People's Republic of Reston or the lost suburbs of Dale City, whether four eyes or two, whether geeky or hip, no matter ivy or state, no matter crude or prude, the boa would manage to tease out each of its denizen's unique charms.

Anyway, when Mike took my call, I stumbled over my words clumsily, my face beet red in my own home, palms sweaty, sounding inane. But I remember the sincerity of my sentiment. Somehow, the boa laid us open as people to each other without stripping us of our identity. We were not anonymous, yet we were outside of social expectations/prescriptions... (marlo thomas, free to be, lololol... GOD I'M SAPPY.) In that samll virtual world, I at least felt like part of a community that has been rare for me in my actual life. I have very rarely even known my neighbors. Do you remember how it was? We laughed, we cared (blah blah blah)... We even *fought*, lol... Hmmmm... KV (who Robert, Johnny, and I tried to call one night).... is it daffodils? were we like daffodils?

But now, the internet in many ways simply seems to multiply the anonymity of modern society. Online interaction has become so pervasive, so embedded in broader society, that the inautheniticy we practice and social facades we maintain often follow us from the actual to the virtual.

My point, anyway, is that maybe blogging makes space for the tmmabbs way of being and interacting, space that seems otherwise actually and virtually scant.

I really liked not being able to edit too ;-)

Knowing I can delete this, fix it, spell check... I begin to feel hesitant, reluctant to send this post... unedited, sentimental, poorly thought out...shyness, awkwardness, fear, start to crowd...

Then I remember Dave and what his loss has reinforced in my mind about friendship. I think about the real smile it brought to my face to see tthe tmmabbs names here.

So here's to you Davison. I'll bravely click post without preview.

So, this self-conscious, beet-red-in-the-face, silly-sappy-sentimental-idealistic post is my hug to you Liz, Chas, Ken, Robert, Tel, MY, and Brian. Linda and Craig, I don't think i know you (repeat weak memory comment as needed), but thanks for sharing about Dave.

Rox (ye olde Bash Momma who still keeps up with your dental records)

OK, really gonna not click preview, Bonzai!!!!! (WYGTYA)

Hi Liz,
A few thoughts from Dave's Brother
Dave slowly died over a period of several weeks with his mother, my sister Dale and her husband, myself and my wife, my two daughters, my son, my grandson and various church friends at his side. He was coherent throughout and communicating (left thumb typing) from his 14" G4 Mac laptop. He had come to a strong belief and "faith" relationship with God in the last year or so (personal difficulties not withstanding) and was quite at peace with what was to come. He passed quietly, early that Saturday morning before my mom arrived, as his personal caregiver sang hymns to him.
It is true that he had alienated himself from friends and family member over the last several years but he did reconcile with all in the family during those last weeks and days.
Bruce lived at house in the our neighborhood, Riverside area of Newport News (on the James River), at that time. He was playing a Fender Rhodes piano and Dave came over and jammed Flute with him. They did meet again in an airport and Bruce remembered him well. He was a brilliant flutist in the "old days". We used to play jazz and classical pieces every time we got together.

Thank you all for sharing, and thank you Liz for your kind rememberences and for posting.

His brother John

I met Dave in person only twice, at events organized for the 'Music Share' project that sprung up on TMMABBS. I read him much more often. Living in Annapolis, we rarely got together with any other TMMABBS members.
Do any of you remember the Music Share project? Jack Hirschfeld (sp?) thought it up. About 12 of us made a tape of favorite music and Jack made copies of each for each of the other participants. Dave participated, as well as Jack, Tel, Michael Yourshaw, Richard Grant, Chas Redmond... I could probably find the tapes in the basement... Our first meeting with any of the group was a dinner at a restaurant that someone organized for the Music Share particpants. It was a thrill to put faces to names for us. My wife Delia and I brought our then-young son Brent... it was before we found out he is autistic. He has grown so much in many ways (
Its really beautiful to read about Dave, but sorry that its on this sad occasion. I wish I'd gotten to know him more.

I forgot to include the important part in my original comments regarding Dave. Sorry.

Once upon a time when TMMABBS was in its prime, I invited fellow participants to come to a picnic at Sandy Point State Park, which is near to us; near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge connecting the Eastern and Western Shores of Maryland. Due to my inexperience, I did not realize that the place was going to be packed and therefore keep many of the gang from even entering the park. Jack Hirshfeld, his daughter Laila, and Dave Tudder were the only ones who were able to get in during the 2 hours that we waited.

After we gave up, we went to our townhouse and visited awhile. We were grateful that they had come. We rarely had company. Jack and Laila left after a little while. Before long, one of us had the idea to go to Fuddrucker's and have dinner. Dave told the cashier the name "Alonzo Q" was to be used to announce that his food was ready. As Dave told it (on the former " ... and later, indeed I was "Alonzo Q", to guard against the very real possibility of another hungry "Dave" answering the call for My Burger. A busy place, Fuddrucker's, and not exactly the kind of place that would have a lot of "Alonzo Qs" hanging around - if you know what I mean...".

I don't remember, really, WHAT we talked about that night but I do remember HOW we talked. We talked like regular folks. So what? What's so special about that? He made us feel that we were OK and interesting and belonged somewhere, even if we weren't sure where, yet. We were socially alienated from everyone I worked with, the neighbors, etc.... due to what was commonly then considered as the "bizarre" and "weird" behavior of our son Brent. That night, just chatting with Dave, it was like it didn't matter how different things were for us. It wasn't such a 'bad' thing that Brent is so different. Dave made us laugh, told us interesting things and asked us sincere questions about us. It was a completely unique experience at the time. My social life at the time, if you could call it that, was limited to "online". Dave gave us hope that we would find other understanding people, like him, again.
It was a gift.

Thank you, Dave.


From time to time I have been searching for Dave on the Internet to see if we could reconnect some how. It was very sad to find out that he had now passed away.

I am Swedish, but had met an American girl, Cheryl, later to be my wife. In order to stay to gether, I managed to get a job a MCI in 1986. Luckily for me, at Dave's department.

We worked together for about a year in 1986 and 1987, yes I remeber the SS7, an issue Dave was quite fanatic about. We also spent a lot of time together also outside work, sharing many of the same interest, Macintosh, music, scientific philosophy, and the meaning of life, computers and networks. And as many people seem to remember, I also remember the napkins. I remember in particular going in his MR2 and spending longer than allowed lunches at Celebrity Deli, exchanging ideas on napkins.

He introduced me to TMMABBS and remember logging on quite often for a time there. Unfortunately, I never managed to meet the TMMABBS people in real life. I did once visit his parents home in Newport News with Cheryl, and remember the hostpitality of his family. And the pool at midnight.

I went back to Sweden in 1987 and some years later Dave came to visit in Sweden and I remember him talking about someone he was going to marry. Unfortunately we lost contact after that.

Not many, if any, person has impressed me as much as Dave. You who knew him, you know why.

I am feel really sad that I will not meet him again, but part of him will always stay with me.

Tomas Jonsson, Göteborg, Sweden

Wow! Dave's name popped into my head the other day while trying to persuade my son to practice his sax, and I find out via Google and this lovely site that Dave is jamming on the other side! He was a friend of mine from the College of William and Mary, and I nagged him to keep in school and later to get back into school. This was all pre- personal computers and he was drifting, and I'm so delighted to learn he was able to focus his mighty intellect on something and make a difference in the world. Dave was a lovely gentle soul who could play 2 recorders at the same time (doesn't anyone remember that??) and climbed walls to make me laugh. I remember helping him move to a new apartment at 2 a.m. and being pulled over by the cops - Dave kept his cool, changed the radio station away from the "alternative" music we were listening to, rolled down the windows to air out the car (I think you know why . . .), and "yessir-ed" the cop half to death. I've told my kids about that night (in a "don't try this one" vein of warning). He always had a willing ear for any of my problems (and yes, even in 1976 he was drawing and explaining on napkins!), dependable with a sly smile who could put me on with his earnestness and totally pull my leg, who took lovely photographs, was devastated when his grandmother had her problems with Alzheimer's, who was so unique, . . . just so Dave. I had heard from him several years ago, and he promised to send me a copy of a photo he had taken of me that he still remembered taking. How nice he was to have remembered me, and how nice it is to remember him. Wish he was here to tell him so. Pax, Dave.

I'm so saddened to have found this web site and read that Dave has passed.

I was thinking of him today and thought that I'd give google a shot and see if I could catch up with him.

We worked together as engineers at SBS from 1981 to 1985 and then again at GTE Spacenet for a year or so after that. In fact it was Dave who passed my info on to GTE and ultimately how I got the job there.

I remember that Dave used to keep an HP calculator velcroed to his steering wheel in the car so that he could calculate various things while driving. His mind was never idle and he was always thinking up new ideas.

We always had a great time bouncing ideas off each other and telling stories. He had some interesting spy stories too and would often throw random "trigger" words or phrases like "nuclear terrorism" into the conversation while on the phone with me, just in hopes that it would tickle a NSA computer somewhere. I wasn't sure that I wanted the NSA to come and check me out, but there was no stopping Dave :-)

Had to keep an eye on him though as sometimes he'd spontaneously start disassembling part of my car or something just to see what was under a panel or how something worked :-) It used to tick me off at the time, but has made me chuckle many a time when I've thought about it in the years since.

We traveled a number of times together to different spots around the country, Philly and San Diego for SBS and a host of other locations for GTE. I remember being out in Livermore or San Ramon, CA on a trip when he got the MR2 and took me for the first ride in it, and then the daily race out to the site where we were working. Him in the nimble MR2 and me in a Camaro - I didn't stand a chance!

So many memories now come flooding back. Godspeed Dave . . .

Daryl, thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of Dave. They made me smile.

It was great reading all of the great memories that everyone has of my uncle Dave. He has always been great to my brothers and sister. Funny, even at seven years old I remember my uncle going on and on about life and ideas and theories. I would just look at him and say...Huh! He was such a smart man. I remember when I was young thinking how cool he was in his two seater car. I will always remember his life and the great memories he has left in my heart. Thank you all for reminding me what a truly cool uncle he was.
Dave, I love you always!

Amber, believe it or not, one of the things that Dave most wanted out of his life was to be thought of as "cool Uncle Dave." That, to him, was going to be his indication that he'd become the kind of person that he wanted to be. So your comment is in many ways the best possible tribute that anyone could have left--an affirmation that he did, in fact, achieve his most important goal.

I was Dave's first office mate at MCI. He started the day the Chernobyl incident was disclosed by the Kremlin, and the first words out of his mouth when we heard it was,"This is big, this could lead to an end of the Cold War."

For those of us old enough to remember that time, there was no inkling that the Cold War was coming to an end or that the Berlin Wall would fall anytime soon. It was a remarkable "instant analysis" that turned out to be 100% correct, and that no one on TV, radio or in the newspaper saw coming at that time.

I knew every time Dave opened his mouth (which wasn't a rare occurrence)there was a 95-99% chance that I would be hearing something I wouldn't hear anywhere else - no matter how much I traveled, who I met, what I read, or watched on TV.

I was really looking forward to getting in touch with him at least one more time to listen to the stories he'd gathered since our last discussion back in the 90's. What a sad ending for such an interesting and unique person.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on September 9, 2004 7:36 PM.

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