Obituary • David Chancellor Black • May 31, 1932 to December 24, 2007


Committed to family, education, land preservation, and environmental issues, David Chancellor Black passed away peacefully at home on Christmas Eve 2007 after living 13 months with pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered by his family and his many friends for his integrity, humility, kindness, gentle spirit, sense of humor, and enduring optimism. His generosity and commitment to serving others inspired all who knew him.

David was born in Seattle on May 31, 1932 to Leo Simpson and Dorothy McEwan Black. The youngest of four siblings, David spent his early years living in the family home on Bainbridge Island where he attended Pleasant Beach School. He later commuted to Bush and Lakeside Schools in Seattle before graduating high school from Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He earned a B.A. in English from Yale University in 1954, and later completed his M.Ed. at Harvard University.

David was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served for two years in Austria as a part of the Allied Occupation Force. He took a European discharge, and savored a marvelous year studying at the University of Innsbruck. He became fluent in German, developed a fondness for the Austrian Alps, and established many lifelong friendships.

David devoted most of his professional life to teaching. He taught at The Rocky Mountain School in Colorado, The Midland School in California, and Noble and Greenough School near Boston. In the 1960s, David founded “The Vagabonds,” and led teenagers on Northwest summer hiking and sailing adventures. David was a faculty member at Lakeside School in Seattle for 18 years, first as Lower School Director, then as Upper School English and German teacher, and later as Director of Admissions. From 1985-1995, David served as Director of University Tutoring Service where he guided students in a variety of areas, including SAT and college preparation.

In 1965, David married Inez Noble whom he had met at an Experiment in International Living reunion in Vermont. Their shared connection with the E.I.L. laid the foundation for their frequent travels to Europe throughout their marriage.

David continued his love of German by attending the University of Washington’s German Table. He participated in the Foundation for International Understanding through Students (FIUTS), by hosting visiting foreign students and supporting them as they settled in Seattle.

David had many interests and hobbies; playing the guitar, singing folk songs, cross-country skiing, hiking in the mountains, farming, gardening, collecting Model A Ford trucks, reciting poetry, and just being with friends and family. He most loved spending time on Lopez Island where he served as Camp Nor’wester’s first Program Director and where he and Inez purchased their family farm. It was when he was “getting his hands in the earth,” planting the garden, driving the tractor, bringing in the hay, or sitting around the fire with family and friends that he was happiest.

David gave much of his time, energy, and resources to many environmental and educational organizations including: The San Juan Preservation Trust, Camp Nor’wester, Northwest Seaport, Outward Bound, Cascade Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Environmental Council, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, Trust For Public Land, Red Cloud Indian School, Oglalla Lakota College, St. Joseph’s Indian School, and many more. The legacy of David’s generosity, concern for others, support of worthy causes, and care for the environment will be felt by many people and organizations long into the future.

David was a patient and loyal husband, a generous and caring father, a loving grandfather, an inspiring professional colleague, and a kind and compassionate friend. He is survived by his wife, Inez Noble, two daughters, Heather Black Carrión and Lisa Black Avolio, four grandchildren, Elena, David, Lara, and Virginia, a sister, Marillyn Black Watson, two brothers, William McEwan Black and Alan Fraser Black, all of Seattle.

The family wishes to thank Seattle Cancer Treatment, Wellness Center, Providence Hospice of Seattle, Dr. Robert Kitchell, and David’s “visiting angels” for their care and kindness during David’s illness.

A memorial celebration of David’s life will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 12 at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. East in Seattle. A reception will follow in adjoining Bloedel Hall. There will also be a memorial celebration for David on January 20 at 1:30 p.m. at the Lopez Island Community Center.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the San Juan Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 327, Lopez Island, WA 98261 or Camp Nor’wester, P.O. Box 668, Lopez Island, WA 98261, or to one of the environmental or educational organizations listed above. The family would appreciate written memories sent to P.O. Box 22384 Seattle, WA 98122 or to an online guest book at