Nature 21

David Corydon Walden

June 7, 1942 ~ April 27, 2022 (age 79)


Dave Walden died of mantle cell lymphoma in his home in East Sandwich, MA on April 27, 2022.  He was 79 years old.

Born in Longview, WA, on June 7, 1942, to elementary school teacher Velva Diede and high school chemistry teacher Clarence Walden, he was raised primarily in Antioch, California, where his roots remained deep.  After high school, he attended the University of California at Berkley briefly, before completing two years at Diablo Valley Community College and then going on to San Francisco State College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. At San Francisco State he discovered a passion for computer programming.

Dave then moved to the East Coast to work at MIT Lincoln Laboratories with Frank Heart and other mentors as a programmer.  A few years later Dave followed Frank to Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, where he worked for 27 years with a one-year interlude. In the late 1960's, Dave was part of the small team that contracted with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to design, develop and maintain the ARPANET which enabled first four and then many University computers to work together in a network.  The ARPANET is credited as the precursor to today's internet.  During this time, he also completed all the requirements for a master's degree in Computer Science at M.I.T, sans thesis.

In 1965 he met Sara Cowles while producing a summer production of Guys and Dolls at MIT, where they also made several lifelong friends, and in 1966 they were married. In 1970, with their infant son, Luke, they realized a dream of living abroad and moved to Norway for a year, where he worked at Norsk Data developing a Norwegian military computer network. A few professional contacts there became lifelong family friends.

Dave, Sara, and Luke moved back to Boston in 1971, and Dave returned to BBN where he assumed technical and later management positions, eventually in the 1990s becoming BBN's representative to the Center for Quality Management, a consortium of corporations and universities dedicated to sharing and promoting Japanese quality management techniques. Dave authored and co-authored many books and articles on quality management, computer networking, and, during his retirement, the early history of the internet, digital typesetting, printing, and typography. 

A voracious reader of fiction and a broad range of non-fiction topics, Dave devoured books on subjects ranging from math and science to all the arts, games, and sports -- just about any topic, except politics. He became a serious student and practitioner of several personal interests over the years including bridge, chess, juggling, sailboat racing, Celtic music (whistle and flute), and, in his retirement years, Boston Red Sox baseball. He was a lifelong cinephile, posting brief reviews on his website of more than 1500 movies he saw in theaters since 1998. He loved a broad range of musical genres including Broadway musicals, classical, jazz, folk, rock, and Celtic music. Since observing his father working on home improvement as a child he valued tools, making repairs, and watching skilled people work. In all aspects of life, he was extremely curious and loved being a student of expert individuals whose intelligence and accomplishments he admired in both professional and recreational pursuits.

In retirement, Dave became even more devoted to his family, spending months visiting and caring for his grandkids and son and daughter-in-law in New York City, Portland, OR, and Providence, RI.  Dave was a very hard worker at anything he undertook in all aspects of his life. The driving force throughout his life was an unquenchable impulse to be helpful in whatever situation he found himself. He is remembered as a kind and gentle man.

Dave is survived by his wife Sara, son Luke, daughter-in-law Mindy Sobota, grandchildren Ada and Kai Sobota-Walden, brother Daniel Walden and his wife June, sister Velma Hampson and her husband Paul, sister-in-law Susan Cowles, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Dave specified that gifts in his memory could be sent to:

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Dept. of Medical Oncology

330 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215


TeX Users Group, P.O. 2311, Portland, OR 97208-2311






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