David (born May 11, 1961) was an American IT professional and the CEO of Rapid Business Software (RBS). He was considered by some to be one of the most ingenious problem-solvers they have known and as of September 2001 had developed a sought-after reputation in software engineering with leading global financial companies including Smith Barney, Chase Manhattan Bank, Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and Marsh & McLennan. He had also achieved reaching his personal financial goals of funding college accounts for his sons (then four and eight) while remaining on track for his projected 2011 early semi-retirement.
Dave grew up in the mid-Hudson town of Wappinger’s Falls (fifty miles north of New York City), the second son of Hiro (nee Hironaka) and Stanley Garcia. Hiro, aka ‘Mitzi’, was a teaching assistant and his father Stanley was an IBM technician. His brother Richard (six years older) moved to Vermont when David was a teen. Also living in his childhood household was his paternal grandfather Vicente Guardiola Garcia, an immigrant from the Alicante region of Spain. He was an all-American boy born from a melting pot of 1st and 2nd generation nations including Japan, Spain and Poland. He was an honor roll graduate from Roy C. Ketcham High School in 1979 and graduated from SUNY College at Cortland with a Bachelors of Science in Math and Computer Science in Dec. 1983.
In 1972, Hiro noted, “I noticed David couldn’t see me”. In 1974, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, classified as legally blind with less than 20% peripheral vision (tunnel vision) and night blindness, and given a projection for complete blindness by age forty. With no treatments or corrective lenses available, palliative devices such as a white cane, a tape recorder, a therapist and a recommendation to learn Braille were given. His parents deferred informing David of his diagnosis until the approach of his sixteenth birthday, pleading for a driver’s permit. The news of impending blindness was crushing for him, and although the foot-tripping teasing and extreme clumsiness that freckled his childhood suddenly made sense, he rebuked with the rage of a fallacious adolescence. Throughout this difficult period his parents remained steady. “We didn’t give him any special treatment Stan said, it seemed tough at times, but it was the only way I could operate.” Not treating David special, proved to work well for him later on as he became socially assertive and self-reliant.
The high school years were marked by discoveries, adventures and tragic awakenings, framed by Classic Rock ballads. David and a friend rebuilt an old 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass, they dubbed “Killer”, purchased from the high school shop teacher, taking it for many reckless off-road joy rides. “Fifty bucks is what they originally bought it for, said another friend Carlo, Fifty bucks and they built it up. The Killer Cutlass.” Unable to legally drive a car in the ‘70’s’, he developed a passion for dirt bikes and a Yamaha 250 YZ he purchased with money saved from odd jobs. He recruited friends to ride with him and drive the bikes to motocross practice fields, entering into racing for two years (1982-83). He was assigned by the federation, the number “111”. Attending and watching dirt bike and NASCAR races remained a life-long passion. The YZ sits in his parent’s garage with an American flag draped over it.
Following a year of failed attempts to secure post-graduate employment, other than minimum wage temp jobs (due to vision and transportation issues), Dave responded to a job search company ad in the New York Times and in March 1985, began training for his first professional computer programming job with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank in Manhattan. In Spring 1985, he rented a room in in Greenwich Village before settling into a three-bedroom apartment with a friend in Woodside, Queens. In 1986, David and I rented an apartment in Valley Stream, Long Island followed by the purchase our home in Freeport, Long Island in 1988.
David’s developed interests in coding, electronics, engine mechanics and music in his youth, eventually shaping into a DIY`er finding creative ways to improvise in all genres of mechanical repair when parts were unavailable or unaffordable. As a teen, on ‘Spring ‘Clean-up Day’, he salvaged T.V.’s and radios, from the curb to disassemble and regenerate and recycle the parts to repair and create other things. This proclivity followed him through adulthood making trips to the dump free salvage events, rendering everything in our house fixable. We never purchased a new washing machine or refrigerator because they were always fixed…a saw, screw set, duct tape and spray paint were more sensible investments.
Music became the elixir related to every facet of his life. You could almost relate anything to music, he wrote in many a letter. He penned of sitting for hours listening to and recording albums, transferring them from vinyl to cassette, meticulously labeling 2×3 cards in clear cases to arrange alphabetically in the stereo cabinet he built. In his letters he wrote, I’m just sittin’ here, recording…then he’d write me songs in the waiting. He built a large pair of speakers in wood boxes and a custom boom box out of plywood with a car stereo and speakers that he carried on his left shoulder. He was eager to attend every rock, fusion and classical concert and Jazz club he could find the time, funds and transportation for and after moving to Long Island became an avid member of the IMAC Theater (Inter-Media Arts Center) in Huntington Station.
David’s conservative sense of ingenuity applied to his life management and financial planning style. As an early user of electronic money management tools, he owned the first Blackberry predecessor (Palm Pilot I), storing lists, notes, schedules and contact records in impressive detail. He annually printed out categorized, color-coded lists of our financial data for analysis and use in future financial planning and modification of our spending behaviors so we could enjoy the present and plan for our and the kids futures. ToDo lists were tagged in four levels of urgency from mailing the disability contract and completing a Will, to arranging job interviews, following through on real estate interests and planning little league drills. He made notes in the margins and had a wish list of future aspirations, goals and desires. There were “many things to do in the time that was left…”
Dave’s ambitious enthusiasm for life was not lost to the notion of his questionable future as he continued driving cars and motorcycles off-road, building engines and tinkering with electronics intoned by the reaffirming healing world of music. He navigated the physical world aware of but not crippled by his limitations in such a way that many were unaware of his low vision. The RP took its place as an accepted fact of life through his thirties and by his fortieth birthday he had less than 18% of central sight remaining. There wasn’t much talk, but he worried about it, weighing it into big life decisions. After our second child Dylan was born in 1997, we decided that our family was complete. David said, “I can’t handle any more than two kids. I don’t want to bring any more kids into the world that I can’t take care of and raise myself. I can’t see any more than two kids!”
The impermanent nature of his vision exemplified his consciousness of the fragility life, which was manifest in his recycling and sustainable life-style habits. He held an inherent hyper-awareness of time, often expressing concern over the transience and conscious use of it, always wanting more. His consumption modesty matched his engineering prowess in quirky fashion statements. He cut and epoxied steel-belted Michelins to worn-out boot soles and riveted tin sandbox remnants to the rotting floor of my ’73 Malibu, painting it (and himself) with tar. In our WWI-era house he installed sheetrock, insulation and windows and re-wired the house, replacing old nob and tube fuses. He re-plumbed, repositioned hot water heating pipes and 200+lb iron radiators and broke apart the old cast iron boiler, hauling it out of the basement in pieces to replace with a newer one a neighbor gave us. He replaced stair treads, insulated and walled over concrete block basement walls with a 32 caliber nail gun and built a formidable front yard garden box. This man fixed everything that fell apart and quit. Among his subjects, the washer, the old Kenmore refrigerator, the old Montgomery-Ward shock-stove and the toaster. There was nothing he did not fix, which meant there was hardly a chance that I was getting anything new until I laid a crowbar into it. Our boys knew that Daddy could fix anything, which kept a rotating supply of toys on the basement bench, the last being a prized remote control boat that David had promised Davin he’d fix. He had come to bed late on the 10th. I found that boat on his workbench, repaired and fully charged on September 12th. He was a man of his word who took no promise lightly.
David’s hunger for adventure was all about his “will do” attitude to get the most out of the life and to fit in as many experiences as possible before his sight was completely lost. As a teen and young adult, his love of cars and motorcycles prevailed over his diagnosis. In adulthood, he focused on traveling, outdoor physical experiences and living a healthy lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, with a hope to retard retinal degeneration. He pumped iron at a club in NYC on some of his lunch hours and craved activities that challenged all of his muscles. He rode his 1978 Schwinn, often with a toddler strapped to the back from Freeport to Long Beach. He also enjoyed hiking, snow and water sporting. Boating became his latest favorite past time with the purchase of a 20’ bow rider in Oct. 2000. We enjoyed one season on it.
A zest for life fueled his drive to live out his boyhood mantra, “The one thing in life, to try and get a lot of fun…There are many things to do….To live is to work. Live hard, play hard was his mantra. He turned over six month contractual jobs in six weeks, unhappy to hang around just for a paycheck. His enthusiasm in personal life matched his ambitions in corporate life, moving from early corporate computer programming trainee in MSDOS with a large banking firm to self-incorporated IT financial software analyst as RBS (Rapid Business Software), he wrote code for financial applications of major corporate users, ultimately with Marsh & McLennan at One WTC in 1999. In early 2001, he announced he would pursue a new point of focus in the development of the emerging social media technology known as the World Wide Web and had begun interviewing for new opportunities.
David was passionate about his relationships and possessed a fervent desire to assist others in pursuing any manner of task. He pursued things to the “Nth” degree, approaching challenges in learning and teaching from many angles. When he learned, he taught, with great patience and diligence. From all facets of life, David was all-in, the New World Man (dubbed in college for his restorative ingenuity in the fraternity house) with the happy-go-lucky grin. Dave always found the time to help a neighbor or extended family member research, build and fix mechanical and personal dilemmas, exemplifying an extraordinary ability to maintain friendships and correspondence from all pockets of his life. He engaged people he met regularly on the train, the bus, and the local community in lively discussions and responded to the needs of his parents by chopping wood, providing clean water, arranging lawn service, snow clearing and home maintenance. In contrary was his un-abashment in seeking the assistance of others to get his needs met, lending a deeply meaningful human experience for all, especially Deborah. Elements of each relationship in his life were woven into the fabric of his zealous nature, and were graciously unmasked in his presence, reflecting a shared sense of virtuosity and safety in the nuclear union of our little foursome.
By forty, David was a self-“made man”. He enjoyed a successful career surpassing his projected success, a fulfilling marriage, healthy children, a decent home, a boat on the Hudson, solid and diverse friendships, minimal debt and was meeting his financial goals for the future while affording to provide our family, for us all to “get the most out of life”. He was smart, but unpretentious. Handsome but un-vain. His beauty was in the ways he valued his relationships with people, the earth and the life he thought he’d never have, living it to the ‘Nth’ degree.
“GOING FOR THE ONE”
The one thing in life,
To try and get a lot of fun,
Out of the poor qualities I’m given,
There are many things to do,
In the time that is left,
What will get done?
Very few things will be accomplished,
For life is a struggle to live,
To live is to work. – David 1980
- IT Consultants Group, NYC chapter
- Foundation Fighting Blindness, Long Island chapter
- Delta Kappa Beta, SUNY Cortland Alumni Association
- Inter Media Arts Center, Huntington, NY
- Allegiance Consulting Firm
- Marsh & McLennan Companies
- GHI Incorporated
- Freeport Little League