|Birth: ||Jun. 3, 1931|
San Francisco County
|Death: ||Feb. 22, 2011|
David was the son of Ava Deane Cross from Arkansas and A.B. Prescott from Kansas. He was born in San Francisco in 1931, and a year later took on a new role--playing big brother to his new baby sister, Beverly. Their parents' marriage broke up sometime around the time David was two years old, and the children never saw their mother again. This was a wound he carried with him for the rest of his life.
Their father remarried some years later to a woman who, from the way she treated them, didn't want the children any more than their father did. David grew up feeling unloved and unwanted, and believing that his mother had abandoned them and died not long afterwards.
Many years after their father's death, he and his sister found out the truth--that, to their great surprise, their mother hadn't died, but had remarried and had three more children who didn't know about them either. During an apparently acrimonious breakup, their father hid them away in separate homes in another state to keep their mother from ever seeing them again.
His mother tried to find her two oldest children, but was either led to believe they'd died or for other reasons finally had to give up looking for them and focus on raising her younger children. It's believed that she didn't tell her younger children about their older siblings in order to spare them the grief of never knowing them, as well as never knowing what happened to them.
This was decades before the internet, when a parent who was determined to hide children away from their other parent could get away with it much more easily than they can today.
David often said that his father was abusive and hadn't wanted them, and that before his second marriage he had farmed them out over and over again to whoever he could get to take care of them for a while so that he didn't have to. Taking them away from their mother seemed like a case of not wanting them, but not wanting her to have them even more than that.
Fortunately, a few years before his death, David and his sister were able to meet their "new" siblings and forge relationships with them. They were too late to meet their mother because she'd died years earlier, but David was able to visit her grave and mourn for her there.
They also found out from their younger siblings that she was a great mother, and there was no doubt that she hadn't given them up voluntarily. David loved his siblings very much and it added great joy to his life to get to know them.
One big unsolved piece of David's life was knowing so little about his mother and grandparents. All he knew about his grandparents were their names - Arthur Benjamin Cross from Alabama and Mildred Morgan from Oklahoma - and the names of Mildred's parents and siblings from U.S. census records.
His mother's early life remained a blank even to David's younger siblings, maybe because it was sad and difficult to talk about. All he knew was that her parents died when she was young (death dates and places unknown), and not being able to find out more about her bothered him until the end of his life.
David enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, and served just before and during the Korean War era. He trained to be an aircraft electrician, and was stationed in San Diego when the Korean War broke out.
He said he wanted to serve in active battle so badly that he tried stowing away aboard a ship to get to Korea, but that the military stopped him and kept him in the States. This was another great disappointment in his life, though he did his job well and was granted an honorable discharge when his enlistment was up. He even served in the reserves after his discharge.
David married Margie Robinson, with whom he had a daughter and son. After that marriage broke up, David ended up living in Oklahoma working for an oil company until he retired. He was married two more times and had stepchildren he loved very much, but sadly, both of these marriages also ended in divorce.
He retired to Ohio where he loved the beauty of the countryside but hated the long, cold winters spent mostly indoors to stay out of the freezing ice and snow. David spent his last months back in California, and his greatest joys were seeing flowers blooming all year, not being cooped up inside all winter, and not having to struggle through ice and snow if he needed to go anywhere.
He loved finding, cutting, and polishing rocks and minerals as well as buying rare and hard to get specimens, and said he had two sheds full from a lifetime of collecting and buying. He also loved traveling across the U.S., rock hunting, camping, and exploring new places as he went, as well as revisiting places he loved.
Three of his favorite places were the Continental Divide in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, and Pueblo Park, New Mexico. He also loved going to the yearly Shaker Woods festival in Ohio.
In his later years, he was able to take an Alaskan cruise that he talked about for the rest of his life. Sitka and Kodiak Island were his two favorite places and he hoped to go back and see both of them again someday.
On his last road trip across the United States, the highlights of his trip were visiting an historic part of Ohio, staying at the Wigwam Motel (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) on Old Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona, and seeing the Grand Canyon.
Some of David's additional interests were cooking, collecting recipes, gardening, animal and bird watching, latch hook rug making, brewing wine and beer, making jams and jellies, crafting jewelry from rocks and minerals he'd cut and polished, motorcycling, collecting jacket patches from places he traveled to, reading Carl Hiassen novels, and traveling to visit friends, acquaintances and family members. The label "renaissance man" is a good one to describe him.
He especially loved reminiscing about the old days when, from his own account, he was a bit on the rascally side sometimes. He had some great stories to tell about his days in Florida, as well as other places he'd lived throughout the years.
David had a great sense of humor and loved a good joke, and a couple of the pictures here show it. He collected items for one of them for many months before deciding that it was time to take his portrait and share it with others. Hint: it's the most "colorful" picture in his memorial.
Another joke he planned and carried out was having his picture taken with a "saloon floozy" at an historical reenactment of Gold Rush days, and sending the picture to unsuspecting friends and family to let them think that he'd run off to live in the mountains with his "new girlfriend."
He never even knew her name, but he 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 a lot of friends and family in mourning when he passed away from complications of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) after a long and extremely 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 to that the damage from heart attacks, heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease bordering on kidney failure, gout, arthritis, multiple coronary bypasses, glaucoma, coronary and carotid stents, strokes, a bad corneal transplant, and chronic back, shoulder, and knee pain, 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