David Mason Heminway died peacefully at Cove’s Edge in Damariscotta on July 4, after a long, courageous struggle with pulmonary fibrosis.
David was born on April 19, 1927, the son of Edwin Harwood Heminway and Josephine Hawkes Pott of New York City, N.Y. and grew up in Tarrytown and Hastings-on-Hudson. After his graduation from South Kent School in 1944, he joined the Army, training as a radio and Morse code operator. He was stationed in Munich Germany in 1945/46. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Hobart College in 1952, he studied for his Masters degree at Colombia. For the next several years, David alternated teaching at Harmon Hall in Maine and at the Peddie School in New Jersey with extended bicycle trips through Europe. While writing poetry and short stories outside Florence, Italy, he met Elizabeth Lincoln Hilgenberg from Baltimore, Md., they married in 1958. The couple lived in and around Florence where their two children, Olivia and Benjamin were born. David became part owner of the American Language Center in Florence as well as a teacher in the Gonzaga University program. His first three books of poetry were published during this period.
In 1966 David took an English post at the University of Maryland, Munich, a program for American students whose parents were stationed in Europe. He was an inspiring teacher who developed lasting friendships with many of his students. In Munich he also produced and directed theater both at university and downtown venues and at JFK Centers where he was invited to give a number of his own poetry readings. Most holidays the family returned to the farmhouse they had bought in the Appenine foothills. Tragically, his son Ben died in an accident in 1979, while on a bike trip together from Munich to the Italian house. Eight years later, David and Betsy moved to Italy to live year round. There, David worked on a novel and wrote numerous poems. His fourth book – It isn’t Every Day – was published in 2001.
In 2003 they moved to Damariscotta, a region they both had fallen in love with; they were not disappointed. Here David became an involved member of the Pemaquid Poets.
David’s tall lean frame, intense blue gaze, and beard made him a memorable figure. With his creative questioning mind, his humor and his talent with words, he was a friend, mentor and inspiration to many people over the years. The young especially gravitated towards David’s ebullient participation in life and living and responded to his original and insightful ideas and caring advice. His involvements were far-ranging: poetry, theater, music, art, people, and foremost, family. His enthusiasm for life never waned.
David is survived by his wife Betsy; his daughter Olivia; son-in-law Jethro Pettit, and his grandchildren Benjamin, Sophia Rose, and Noah.
Memorial service 5 p.m., Fri., July 25, at Harrington Meeting House.
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of the Strong Funeral Home and Cremation Center.