By Ron Hayes
BRINY BREEZES — David David was a pioneer, a lifelong resident of Briny Breezes who knew the town as a child when it had only one telephone, a teenager who surfed its waves, and a man who remembered the changes he’d seen with both nostalgia and regret.
“When I was a kid, you could go to the beach and come back with a big bag of shells,” he recalled in 2015. “And the west side of Old A1A was all freshwater ponds. Now it’s all condos."
Mr. David died July 26 at Bethesda Memorial Hospital. He was 66 and had suffered from diabetes.
The only son of Hugh David, who served as the town’s mayor for 34 years, David David wore his redundant name with pride and a smile.
“It gave me a sense of humor,” he would tell you. “I was never teased about it, and I’d never change it.”
David Hugh David was born on June 20, 1951, in St. Louis, but he did not stay long.
When a fire destroyed their Missouri home in the late 1940s, Hugh and Marilyn David brought their young family to Florida in a 28-foot trailer and found the fledgling trailer park. In 1953, they became permanent residents. David David was 2.
He was still a boy when Edith Louise Behm’s parents bought a trailer in the late 1950s. The two children grew up together, and in 1970 Edith Behm became a permanent resident. Over the years the two children became friends, then romantic partners, and on May 23, 2015, they became husband and wife. Edith Behm is a retired art and music program planner for Palm Beach County schools.
“He was kind and gentle and sweet,” she said, “and he always put others ahead of himself.”
During his teenage years, Mr. David was an award-winning surfer.
“David had a very smooth style and helped the Cripple Creek Surf Club win some contests held locally,” remembers Tom Warnke, historian of the Florida Surfing Museum in Lake Park. “He was a team rider for Charlie Keller’s Boynton Beach Surf Shop a block east of U.S. 1 on Ocean Avenue. That was when shortboards were invented and David was always a step ahead of the rest of the local crew, graduating from boards that were 9-feet-6-inches, to 8-feet, then 7-feet-6-inches, then 7-feet-2-inches, and finally about 6-foot-10.”
Except for seven years’ service in the U.S. Army, where he served as a sergeant in the 4th Infantry Division’s signal corps, Briny Breezes was his home. He worked in construction and cared for his mother.
After being diagnosed with diabetes, he was advised by doctors at the VA hospital to wear hats to protect against melanoma, and the hats soon became a trademark.
His father, Hugh David, died in 1997 at 75, and Marilyn David in 2016 at 93. David David was the last of his family still residing in the town.
Rita Taylor, who came to Briny Breezes in 1967 and served as its clerk for 35 years, knew the family well.
“I’m so sorry to hear of David’s passing,” she said. “He was a ‘Briny child,’ and I can’t imagine the town without a David living here. They are all truly missed.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sisters and their husbands: Judy and Tim Wood of Boynton Beach, Diane and Ken Potter of Atlantis, and Denise and David Berg of San Diego.
Mr. David is to be buried at sea off Briny Breezes, as were his parents. A memorial service will be held in the town’s clubhouse after the winter residents return.
His wife requests that donations in his memory be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, the American Diabetes Association, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League or the Republican Party.