|Birth: ||Jun. 3, 1931|
San Francisco County
|Death: ||Feb. 22, 2011|
David was the son of Ava Deane Cross and A.B. Prescott, and a year after his birth he was joined by new baby sister Beverly.
Their parents' marriage broke up shortly after that and the children never saw their mother again. This was a wound he carried with him for the rest of his life.
After telling the children many conflicting stories about their mother (including stories that she'd died) their father eventually married a woman who, from the way she treated them, didn't want them any more than he did.
David grew up feeling unloved and unwanted and thinking his mother had abandoned them and died not long afterwards.
Years after their father's death, David found out the truth: that their mother hadn't died when they were little, but had even remarried. It turned out that their father had stolen them away from her and hid them out of state to keep her from ever seeing them again.
David said his father was very abusive and farmed them out over and over again to whoever he could get to take them before he remarried. Hiding them from their mother seemed like a case of not wanting them himself, but not wanting her to have them even more than that.
Their mother tried to find them, but was either led to believe they'd died or for other reasons eventually had to give up looking for them and focus on her new life.
Found among her things after she died was a wallet sized picture of two unidentified children later discovered to be little David and Beverly, proving that Ava Deane never forgot her two firstborn children and always hoped to be reunited with them again someday.
David was too late to reunite with her in person because she'd already passed away, but he was able to visit her grave and mourn for her there.
One part of his life that remained unsolved was knowing so little about his mother and her early life. All he could find out were her parents' names - Arthur Benjamin Cross from Alabama and Mildred Morgan from Oklahoma - and the names of Mildred's parents and siblings from census records. Everything else remained a mystery, including the cause of her being orphaned as a child and where her parents were buried.
David enlisted in the Navy when he was 16 years old and served before and during the Korean War. He trained to be an aircraft electrician and was stationed in San Diego when the Korean War broke out.
Ironically, his mother was also living in San Diego at the time because her husband was stationed there, but he didn't even know her name at that point so he couldn't have found her anyway.
Finding out they'd been so close and didn't know it hurt him for the rest of his life, though there was nothing he could have done to change it. He always wondered if they might even have run across each other on base without recognizing each other after so many years.
It's hoped that his remains can eventually be buried with his mother's, closing a circle broken so long ago and reuniting Ava with her son at last.
David said he wanted to serve in active combat so badly that he tried to stow away on a Korea-bound ship but had to finish his enlistment Stateside. This was a big disappointment to him, though he did his job well and was granted an honorable discharge. He even served in the reserves afterwards.
He was married three times but sadly none of his marriages worked out. After retirement he moved to Ohio where he loved the beauty of the countryside but hated the long, cold winters spent mostly inside.
He spent the last part of his life back home in California, where some of his greatest joys were seeing flowers blooming all year, being able to go outside in winter, and not having to struggle through ice and snow to go anywhere.
He loved all kinds of animals, including cats, dogs, deer, and horses.
He loved finding, cutting, and polishing rocks as well as acquiring rare specimens, and said he had two sheds full from a lifetime of collecting. He also loved traveling across the United States going camping, rockhounding, and exploring new places.
Three of his favorite places were the Grand Canyon, the Continental Divide in Colorado, and Pueblo Park, New Mexico.
In his later years he took an Alaskan cruise that he talked about for the rest of his life. Sitka and Kodiak Island were his favorite places and he hoped to go back and see both of them again someday.
The highlights of his last trip across the United States included visiting an old church in Ohio, staying at the historic Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Arizona, and standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon taking in the view.
Some of his other interests included cooking, motorcycling, brewing wine and beer, gardening, animal and bird watching, latch hook rugmaking, making jams and jellies, creating jewelry from rocks and minerals he cut and polished, collecting jacket patches from places he visited, reading Carl Hiassen novels, and visiting friends and family across the country. The label "renaissance man" is a good one to describe him.
He loved reminiscing about the old days when from his own account he was a bit of a rascal at times, and had some great stories to tell about living in Florida, especially a couple of stories involving boats.
David loved a good joke, and a couple of the pictures here show it. He spent months collecting items for one of them before deciding it was time to take his portrait and share it with others. Hint: it's the most "colorful" picture in his memorial.
Another one of his jokes was having his picture taken with a "saloon floozy" at a California Gold Rush Era reenactment and sending the picture to unsuspecting friends and family so they'd think he'd run off to live in the mountains with his "new girlfriend."
He never even knew her name, but chuckled over his joke for the rest of his life. He'd chuckle all over again knowing the picture is part of his memorial here.
David was a nice guy who sometimes had trust issues because of his difficult childhood but almost everyone who met him liked him, and he left friends and family mourning when he passed away from complications of COPD after a long and painful battle to stay alive.
Just before he died, the doctors said they didn't know how he'd been able to keep breathing for so long with all the damage to his lungs (but in his own words, he was a tough old bird).
Add in the damage from heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, gout, and glaucoma, as well as bypass surgery, coronary and carotid stents, strokes, two failed corneal transplants, and chronic back, shoulder, and knee pain to that and it's a wonder he made it for as many years as he did.
It was still way too soon.
Rest in peace, David.
Ava Deane Cross Gillard (1912 - 1982)
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Created by: Four Leaf Clover
Record added: Jul 06, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 72913690