Nature 33

David Vossbrinck

November 17, 1939 ~ March 5, 2021 (age 81)


Sometimes it is those who lead quietly remarkable lives who bestow the most meaningful legacies, and that is true of David Andrew Vossbrinck of San Jose, CA, who, at age 81, slipped from life on the morning of March 5, 2021, after a long but well-fought illness, leaving behind shattered hearts, but a world immeasurably better for his time in it.

Dave was born on November 17, 1939, in Seattle, WA, the first-born son of William JH Vossbrinck and Lillian Stokes Vossbrinck. While still a baby, the family relocated to Houston, TX where Dave was raised on grits, cap-guns, and Gene Autrey. Later, the Vossbrincks permanently settled in the California Bay Area where Dave graduated from Los Gatos High School and would go on to build a happy life for his own family.

At age 17, Dave joined the U.S. Marine Corps where, following active duty, he would continue to serve four years in the reserves. Because Dave did not serve in wartime, he hesitated to think of himself as a veteran, still, he was deeply proud of his time in the service and it instilled lifelong values of honor, commitment, fidelity, and brotherhood that would define his adult life. After leaving the Marine Corps, Dave attended San Jose State University where he majored in Psychology and worked his way through college digging ditches for Pacific Gas & Electric and playing folk music in Bay Area nightclubs.

While engaged in an internship at Agnew State Mental Hospital, Dave met the love of his life, Adeline (Dell) Stankunas, a psychiatric nurse and runaway snowbird from Lethbridge, Alberta. Dave and Dell married in August of 1961, and over nearly sixty years of marriage, Dave proved himself a hopeless romantic, planning anniversary surprises and writing valentine poems for his beloved bride, even from his hospital bed.

When Dave and Dell began their family in 1963, Dave embarked on his career in industrial tooling, joining his father in the family business, Torque & Tension Equipment, Inc., where Dave and Bill worked hand-in-hand for decades before Bill’s retirement. It was a great source of pride for both Bill and Dave when Dave’s eldest son Craig would later take the reins of the family business, carrying on a long tradition. Rather than retire, Dave then focused his professional energy on a second business, HydroPro, Inc., which Dave continued to manage until his very last days. A caring and devoted employer, it was clear that Dave valued the camaraderie of his partners, staff, and customers far too much to claim the proverbial gold watch he had earned many times over.

In 1973, Dave, Dell, and their closest friends joined the “back to the land” movement and left suburbia for the Santa Cruz Mountains where these four families moved into trailers, cleared land, grew vegetables, raised livestock, and spent nights and weekends building their own spectacular homes among the California redwoods. Life on The Hill could fill volumes with community-living stories of hilarity and misadventure, toiling labor, incredible accomplishment, music, merriment, and the most fun a young man could create for himself and his family. Dave and Dell raised three children on The Hill, providing them with extraordinary childhoods and priceless memories. The house on Glenwood remains the beloved family home, although Dave and Dell returned to their newlywed roots in San Jose over twenty years ago.

As a Dad, Dave was as challenged as any other, but excelled more than most. He loved his kids with fierce passion and possessed a remarkable gift of offering just the right words of comfort and encouragement, giving sound advice or a helping hand, as well as an uncanny knack of finding a smile among the tears. His vast paternal love extended to the friends of his children, and all who entered the Vossbrinck home were welcomed as family, loved, nurtured, and valued, long after all were grown.

Dave’s spirit of love and generosity was his greatest legacy. This was so well illustrated when, in the 1979-1980 school year, Dave spearheaded the establishment of the Soquel Music Foundation, successfully saving the music department from severe budget cuts. Along with his wife, Dell, he rallied Soquel High School’s music students, their parents, and the community at large to raise enough funds to maintain all music programs, founding a non-profit organization that continues to thrive more than forty years later. It was a true labor of love - for music, for his children, and for all the young students who thrived under the care and talent of a music department staff Dave truly loved and admired.

Although Dave spent his life working hard, he knew how to have (and create) a good time. The only thing he enjoyed more than a good laugh, was making others laugh, and he was an accomplished story-teller and practical joker. He was a self-taught musician, accomplished in both guitar and piano, and spent his life playing and singing with his brother, his best friend, or his daughter, at any festive gathering, or in quiet moments of alone time. Dave embraced all music, enjoying everything from jazz, to opera, showtunes, classical baroque, to Hank Williams, John Denver, and Simon & Garfunkel. But his lifelong favorites were always the folk music of Bud & Travis, Joe & Eddie, and John Stewart, who sang to Dave through his iPhone even in his very last moments. Dave was also an accomplished cook, specializing in Cajun cuisine, and there was little in the Paul Prudhomme repertoire that Dave did not master. His culinary legacy included perfecting his mother-in-law’s Lithuanian cabbage rolls, and his own Christmas Eve clam chowder. Dave was an avid reader with a special interest in history, and a dedicated fan of 49ers football and Giants baseball. And like his father before him, Dave loved PGA golf and treasured weekends with a comfy chair and a good tournament. One of his favorite memories was playing Pebble Beach with his Dad, his son, and dear friends.

It was to Dave’s eternal sadness to be predeceased by his beloved family members, grandmother Lili Stokes and parents Bill & Lillian Vossbrinck (Saratoga, CA); and younger brother Douglas John Vossbrinck (Palo Alto, CA). Dave’s favorite cousin, George Edwards (Greene, NY) died just weeks after Dave’s passing. The loss of his closest friends, Ken Boyd (Santa Cruz, CA) and Hank Thorn (Wixom, MI) closed one of the most enduring chapters of Dave’s life, as he treasured these friends as brothers. In the moments following Dave’s passing, his wife and children imagined him once again embracing his family and enjoying the company of his best friends – singing songs, drinking wine, laughing over old Cheech & Chong records, just as they did in the good old days.

Dave is survived by many who loved him dearly: His wife and sweetheart, Dell Vossbrinck (San Jose/Aptos, CA); adoring daughter, Diana Vossbrinck (Anderson, SC); beloved sons and daughters-in-law, Craig Vossbrinck & Eden Israel (Scotts Valley, CA), and Eric Vossbrinck & Darlene Louie (San Jose, CA). Also surviving, Eric & Darlene’s three sons, Dave’s precious grandchildren, Alexander William Vossbrinck, Christopher Douglas Vossbrinck, and Logan David Vossbrinck. Dave is also survived by many nephews & nieces, their children and grandchildren, as well as his cousin, Georgia-Ann Edwards (Belleville, IL).

Dave’s family always extended far beyond bloodlines, and he is also survived by treasured friends Myra Boyd (Santa Cruz, CA); Russell & Dorcas Wasson (St. Louis, MO); Roger & Cathy McCown (Scotts Valley, CA); Frank & Marilyn Priore (Peoria, AZ); Sarah Schiltz (Los Gatos, CA); Rob & Miranda VanDierendonck (Key West, FL); Susan & Robert Cuneo (Santa Cruz, CA); and Tracy Tabler-Boyd (Haiku, HI).

Dave’s family would like to express their deepest gratitude to those healthcare professionals who cared for Dave during many months of hospitalization and homecare, with special appreciation to Dr. Stacey Hein, Dr. Thomas Chen, and Dr. Nayan Sheth, whose loving care gave Dave many more precious days with his loved ones than we could have hoped for.

Dave Vossbrinck was truly a well-loved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, who leaves behind broken hearts and beautiful memories. There are no services to announce at this time, and the family asks only that you hold Dave in your heart as you hold your own loved ones close. To those wishing to pay additional tribute, Dave would be pleased by donations to the Soquel High Music Foundation (SoMu) made in his honor. (Donations may be sent directly to SoMu’s executive director. PayPal users can make online donations by visiting; Checks may be sent to: SoMu Dave Vossbrinck Fund; c/o Zack Olsen, executive director; 2910 S. Main Street; Soquel, CA 95073. Please make checks out to “Soquel High Fund” and include “SoMu/Vossbrinck” in the memo line.)


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