A gifted man with an insatiable curiosity and widespread interests, David Richard Greer possessed a natural zest for life that inspired all who were blessed to know him. He embraced each day as a gift and each person as a friend, and as a natural servant, David was most in his element when working to “put legs on the dreams of others.” Cherished by many, David will long be remembered by those he loved.
Born on March 25, 1934, in Detroit, Michigan, the second son of James and Evelyn (Cunningham) Greer, David graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army from 1956-1958, which placed him for duty in Germany. As a young man, he worked at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. This experience was to be the keystone of his enduring belief in the value of reading, the role of books to improve life circumstances, and the significance of public libraries.
As a professional, David made a home in Spring Lake, where he gave 20 years of service as a volunteer with the Warner Baird District Library. Among his roles were leadership positions that included the construction of a new library building. David was deeply committed to the success of the public library and wanted to make it a center of lifelong learning and a vital part of local community life. He believed it was very important for children and families in the area to have the opportunity to explore the world through reading.
In 1967, David earned his license as a land surveyor. This profession enabled him to use his skills and talents in the science and art of land surveying. Ten years later, with his two partners, John Clapp and Glenn Pomp, he established Holland Engineering Inc. As a respected professional, David was asked by the governor of Michigan to serve on its State Board for Licensing and Regulation for Surveyors. He was president of the board for four years, and later held a position on the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, developing test questions and administering examinations for land surveyors and civil engineers. He was designated a Life Member of the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors.
While a student at Wayne State University, David met Athalia D. Gentry. In David’s humble words: “He became the love of her life.” For almost 47 years of marriage, they delighted in entertaining family and friends at their Spring Lake home. Regardless of whether they served a casual or elaborate menu, it was always scrumptious and memorable. Their shared interests in music, cuisine and theater led to frequent visits to Chicago and small and large cities across the USA and Europe. When Athalia became ill, David remained steadfast in his care for her during her final days.
David often referred to himself as a “cradle” Episcopalian. He was an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he was a tenor in the church choir, provided guidance as a vestry member and enjoyed chaperoning trips with the youth group. The church choir is where he met his second wife, Robby Cramer. With friends and family of all ages, they explored, experienced and enjoyed David’s final years. Observing cloud formations advancing across the Great Lakes, searching for original stands of chestnut trees, and appreciating artwork and the design process led to a life well-lived together. David jumped headfirst into Robby’s passion for science education. They spoke at length about how children think and learn about the world around them. He was a sounding board for her interest in dogs as model organisms for human diseases, spending many hours listening to research and assisting with lesson planning. Their rich conversations on many topics afforded them a life together that filled each day with special joy.
Long-distance running was David’s passion. “I loved running. It didn’t have anything to do with how far or how fast.” An accomplished marathon runner, his personal best was winning the Chicago Marathon in his age division at 70. He did not begin competitive long-distance running until age 59. Over the course of his respected career, David ran 20 marathons, including the Chicago Marathon 13 times and the Boston Marathon five. His curiosity regarding his own endurance was the fun aspect of marathon racing for him. He was intrigued by the uncertainty of how his body would react to the unique conditions of each race. David once described running as, “It’s kind of like reading a book. You want to keep turning the pages faster to see how it turns out.”
On September 7, 2019, David Richard Greer gracefully completed the final marathon of his life on earth, as he passed peacefully into the arms of his Heavenly Father. While it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of David’s steadfast and joyful presence, we find comfort in knowing that the best of his legacy lives on in our hearts and memories.
David is lovingly remembered by his wife, Robby Cramer; brother, Robert (Ursula) Greer; nieces and nephews: Chris (Michal) Greer, Erik (Marlene) Greer, Leslie (Robert) Haeger and Scott (Doneen) Greer. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 47 years, Athalia G. Greer; and his brother, James Greer.
The Memorial and Celebration of David’s Life will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church at a later date to be announced by Klaassen Family Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Spring Lake District Library, the David R. Greer Surveying Engineering Scholarship Fund at Ferris State University, or Carnegie Hall’s Link Up Children’s Beginner Music Program, c/o the West Michigan Symphony. Please visit www.klaassenfuneralhome.com to sign David’s online guestbook.