Story last updated at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2002

Death leaves void
David Forbes died of a heart attack Oct. 5, 2002. He was 55, and his death was, well, efficient. No lingering ailment, no bouts of infirmity, no grappling with "What ifs ..." and "If I'd only ..." Poof! And David was gone. Efficient. And sort of tidy.

Dave liked things tidy. He had a preference for well-manicured lawns and closely trimmed hedges. Such things suited him well. (Perhaps that's what he liked about golf.) He liked the crisp flow of ink from a fountain pen onto creamy white paper; preferred that antiquarian orderliness to the blotchy, uneven indentations of a ballpoint pen.

Forbes (as his most intimate friends in the theatre were apt to call him) liked order, and set about creating it in the world, fussing over details, arranging and indexing and putting the commas in all the right places. He paid attention to details, processing and re-processing those "jots and tittles" (a quote from Charles Dickens) as he called them. Even his best friends, along with his family, would sometimes groan and look askance while Forbes thought things through out loud.

It is curious, for a tidy person, that David was so involved with the messy and emotional business of the fine and performing arts. He applied himself to acting, singing, dancing, and managing every aspect of the performing arts on the Kenai Peninsula. The Performing Arts Society, the Sunday Showcase at KPC, the Kenai Performers, the Peninsula Dancers, the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, the Alaska Alliance for Arts Education and Pier One Theatre are all indebted to David's urge to "tidy things up."

And here, an obituary should mention survivors. Well, thousands of students survived David's classes at the Kenai Peninsula College, and earlier than that, at Kenai Central High School. Many of those students know, and some will realize, perhaps years from now, what David tried to conceal: that teaching is a subversive activity, and what he was really teaching was not just the subject suggested by the course title. What be really taught (here's the subversive part) was a love of learning, a zest for details, and a close reading of important texts. It wasn't really about adverbial phrases or citation of sources at all.

Dave's family saw through his subversive activity. Lorrene, his wife, and children Liam, Laura, and Duncan were all able to call his bluff from time to time and remind him that they knew what he was doing.

As for David's mother, Norma; brothers James, Ray, and Mark; sisters Linda Lee and Roberta Jackson - it is likely they all thought it a bit odd that David chose Kenai, Alaska to make his home, raise his children, and pursue a diverse career, carved out of teaching and administrating at Kenai Peninsula College and his devotion to the performing arts.

In a substantial way, David Wayne Forbes' life and work touched a great many of us on the Kenai Peninsula. We're all his survivors. Without him, our lives will be less orderly. We'll miss him tidying up.

Lance Petersen

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