Dr. David Joseph Kane died on May 22, just five days before his 89th birthday. He went peacefully, surrounded by his four children, at his daughter’s home in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.
He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to Harry J. Kane, a school principal, and Estelle Buckley Kane, a teacher. He was soon joined by a sister, Nancy, and brother, Richard. In the early years, his family lived in Chelmsford and Natick, then moved to Stratford, Connecticut when David was twelve.
Athletic, musical and gregarious, David thoroughly enjoyed his years in Stratford and made lifelong friends there. He graduated from high school in 1950, just after his seventeenth birthday, and went to Connecticut Teachers College (now Central Connecticut State College). After graduating in 1954, he went straight into the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in New London.
While still in college, a friend set him up on a blind date and he met the love of his life, Clare Mellon. She was adventurous, fun loving and independent, a perfect match for him. They married shortly after he graduated from OCS and began their life together at a St. Louis Coast Guard base on the Mississippi River.
They returned to the East Coast in 1957 so David could begin his first teaching job in Greenwich, and built a house in Cos Cob for their growing family. While teaching industrial arts and drafting, David pursued a master’s degree in administration at night from Columbia University. Three years later, he took a job as Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools in Greenwich and continued to attend Columbia until he received his doctorate in 1965.
He was promoted several times in the Greenwich school administration, and at the same time taught as an adjunct professor in Fairfield University’s graduate education program. He played an active role in planning the new Greenwich High School, developing the “house system” for students and overseeing the architecture and design of the building. In 1977 he was promoted to Superintendent of Secondary Education, in charge of three junior highs and the high school. In addition, he taught at nationwide seminars for the National Academy of School Executives and achieved “Distinguished Professor” status. During this time, he and Clare started a real estate business as well, buying and developing properties in Greenwich.
Throughout these busy years, David also served in the Coast Guard Reserve, rising to the rank of Commander. In 1987 he retired from the Greenwich Public Schools, after thirty years of service. David loved living in the town of Greenwich and was an active participant in the community. He was a founding member and president of the Educational Oceanographic Foundation, a non-profit organization that provided supplementary science education to students, a lector at St. Michael Church, a member of the Greenwich Library Board of Directors, a member of the Greenwich Advisory Council on Youth and Drugs, and a member of the Community Answers Board of Directors. He also volunteered for Meals on Wheels and “Christmas in July” charity, renovating homes for low-income citizens.
In addition, he volunteered in the St. John community, restoring historical sites through Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, and serving in the soup kitchen at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church; and in Martha’s Vineyard, volunteering as a docent at the Gay Head Lighthouse.
David’s passions included home building and renovating, tennis, sailing, running, music and, most of all, spending time with his family. He and Clare led a life full of adventure together, traveling widely and exploring new places. They built two beach houses, completely on their own, on Martha’s Vineyard and St. John, where they enjoyed countless vacations with their children and grandchildren.
David is survived by his children: Michael and his partner Ruth Oberg, Elizabeth and her husband Phillip Artur, Maura and her husband Erik Sayre, and Timothy and his wife Annette. In addition, he is survived by eleven grandchildren: Caitlin (Nate), Emily (Joe), Joseph (Molly), Andrew, Tucker, Jake, Nolan (Whitney), David, Bo, Kyle and Wyatt, five great-grandsons: Ben, Finn, Charlie, Jack and Owen; his sister, Nancy Bischoff; and eleven nieces and nephews, and their families. He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Clare, in October 2021.
David had a deep sense of faith and a strong moral compass that guided him throughout his life and inspired all who knew him. He had a gift for connecting with people of all kinds and made everyone he spoke to feel as if they were the most important person in the room. He was also extremely funny and loved a good laugh, even at his own expense.
Though he wore many hats, there were no roles he cherished more than those of husband, father and grandfather. He once told an interviewer, “Anyone who knows me, knows I live for my family.” We, his family, certainly knew it and we will always be grateful for his love and devotion.
There will be a celebration of David’s life on July 6 at 10:30am at St. Michael Church in Greenwich, CT.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: National Public Radio https://www.npr.org/donations/support , Vineyard Conservation Society http://www.vineyardconservation.org , Friends of Greenwich Point https://www.friendsofgreenwichpoint.org