considers himself among the most fortunate of individuals. He landed his dream
job right after finishing his schooling in astronomy at the University of
Michigan, enjoyed its many challenges and opportunities for close to four
decades, and still passionately contributes to the institution he loves as a
volunteer since officially retiring in 2003. Dave was named Chief Curator of
what was then the Planetarium of the Grand Rapids Public Museum in 1964 and
helped implement Museum Director W.D. Frankforter's vision of renaming the
facility after fallen astronaut Roger B. Chaffee in 1967.
a talented staff of two professional Associate Curators, as well as
enthusiastic part time assistants from the ranks of college and high school
interns and local amateur astronomers and led an evolution in public awareness
of the sky. The program included planetarium shows with professional narration
and background music, sidewalk astronomy events, and
West Michigan Skies,
astronomy feature in the
which continues today as the longest running column in the paper's history.
He has taught astronomy on the college level, presented illustrated talks to
numerous educational and civic organizations, and has written articles for both
popular and professional journals.
planetarium as an appropriate venue for laser light shows and science fiction
stories, Dave and support staff made sure technical capabilities for these and
other alternate forms of audio-visual expression were enhanced in a new state of
the art Chaffee Planetarium opened in 1994 as part of the Grand Rapids Public
Museum's VanAndel Museum Center.
He is a
co-founder of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association, the first of the
regional collaborations of planetarium professionals that have since grown to
become the world-wide International Planetarium Society. He is also a
long-time board member and current president of the Grand Rapids Amateur
Astronomical Association, an area-wide group of astronomy enthusiasts that
established and maintains the James C. Veen Observatory in Lowell Township.
Dave's head is
not always in the stars. For years, he was an active Kiwanian and on-call
firefighter with the Cascade Township Fire Department. He has been a member of
a number of community boards and committees over the years. He is a passable
golfer, loves classical music, and is proud that he can still do both downhill
and water skiing at age 70 ¨C though admittedly more conservatively than in the
good old days.
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