Remembering David Gissel, skier who passed away at Copper Mountain Resort in March
For the friends and family of David Gissel, he’ll be remembered for his unwavering generosity, his soft-spoken intelligence and his drive for adventure that kept him on the mountains well into his retirement.
Gissel, 62, passed away due to acute heart failure while skiing at Copper Mountain Resort last month, but for those close to him his influence will continue to make a difference in their lives.
“He was truly somebody you could count on,” said Harry Mason, a longtime friend of Gissel. “He’ll be deeply missed and he leaves a giant hole, I know, in my life. There were few like him and he’ll be remembered for a long time.”
Gissel was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his parents, Charles and Annette, and siblings, Carl and Karen. When he was young he enjoyed biking and having friends over for pool parties. And as a student, he was studious and popular, earning the title of class president in his senior year at Lower Moreland High School in 1974.
After high school, David attended the University of Tennessee where he earned a degree in electrical engineering — a subject he dove into because of his interest in music, a hobby that followed him throughout his life.
“He said that what drew him to it was his love of music, and playing music on electrical instruments,” said Donna Gissel, David’s wife. “He loved music and groups like Tom Petty, Little Feat and Bonnie Raitt. I think he had every CD that they ever did … he loved to go to concerts and hear live music. It could be anything as long as there was live music.”
Following school, David was recruited to Hewlett Packard in Colorado Springs where he worked in research and development as a design engineer. It was at HP that David met Donna, who worked in marketing. The two met at one of Donna’s parties in 1984, and were married five years later in Kauai, Hawaii.
“We’d gone back there three times after that, on anniversaries and special occasions,” said Donna. “He loved it. He would take us snorkeling in offbeat places nobody knew about. He always did his research and we always ended up having a fabulous time.”
David left HP in 2000 and worked at LSI Logic until about 2007, when he rejoined HP via a spinoff company called Agilent Technologies. He officially retired in 2015, inspired to live life to the fullest after his friend, Harry Mason, was diagnosed with liver disease.
“I wound up at a clinic in Cleveland for three months,” said Mason. “Dave babysat our dog for three months, cut my grass, aerated my lawn and he’d call my wife every day to find out what he could do to help. For 37 years, with all of life’s uncertainties, Dave’s friendship was the only constant.
“I think to some extent once he saw how fragile things got with my life, he made the decision that he was going to retire and enjoy life while he could rather than work behind a desk and burn himself out.”
By all accounts, David made the most of his retirement. In his free time he enjoyed listening to music, reading history books on Colorado and the Civil War, and walking his dog Bandit. He liked to watch Netflix with his wife — “Suits” and “The Crown” were a couple favorites — and took advantage of all the outdoor amenities Colorado has to offer.
“He was always ready to go on a ski trip or a bike ride,” said Jim Harris, another old friend. “We did some hiking on occasion, that was something he enjoyed as well. He was an outdoorsy kind of guy that really enjoyed having fun and the social aspect of getting together.”
Friends and family described David as quietly intelligent.
“He was really smart, but he didn’t lord it over people,” said Donna. “He was not only smart, but he was a people person. He had social skills that a lot of people don’t have. He was friendly and approachable. And for being such a quiet guy he was one in a million. He was kind and gentle, but if he wouldn’t put up with any crap from anybody.”
David will be remembered by his wife, his mother Annette, his sister Karen, and his nephews and grandnieces along with countless friends from Colorado to Pennsylvania and beyond.
“Its one of those tough losses you never expect,” said Harris. “He was a genuinely great guy, and we will certainly miss him. He was one of those rare people who was just truly a good friend.”
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