David Senestraro: 1955-2023


David Senestraro, Oct. 21, 1955, to Oct. 11, 2023.
  • David Senestraro, Oct. 21, 1955, to Oct. 11, 2023.

On Oct. 11, David Senestraro passed away peacefully at home after fighting an unexpected stage 4 cancer diagnosed only five short months earlier. At his side was his beloved wife Marie (Heald) of 39 years, daughter Aja and son Ian. In his final days he was surrounded by friends and family lovingly supporting and caring for him and his family.

David is survived by his wife Marie, daughter Aja and her partner Terry, and his son Ian. He is also survived by parents Gene and Betty Senestraro, siblings Dale, Dan, Debbie, Darin and Derek, and uncle John Senestraro and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins. He will be greatly missed by his large extended family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

David was born in Eureka at St. Joseph hospital on Oct. 21, 1955. He attended Eureka High School and graduated in 1973. He received his BS in Business/Computer Science from Humboldt State University in the spring of 1977. From his earliest years, David was bright and curious and explored a wide variety of interests. His activities included leadership development and sheep farming through membership in the local 4-H club, culminating in being awarded the honor of 4-H All Star in 1970.

He also participated in competitive chess, rocket building and launching, and of course, music. David had a passionate and eclectic love for music. Having come of age in the late-1960s and '70s, rock and roll music and its culture were essential to his formative years. David listened to and participated in music as many hours of the day as he could. His high-definition, vinyl-playing turntable was spinning nearly 24/7: The Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Donovan, Moody Blues, Steppenwolf, The Doors, ELP, Jethro Tull, Steely Dan and many others — a cornucopia of the music of the times. (Brother Dale, who shared a room with him for 10-plus years, can attest to that!) All of his siblings remember David's music, and will always warmly associate it with him.

Inspired by his Italian/Swiss heritage, David learned to play the tuba in fifth grade, starting out on his grandfather's old silver tuba that he brought with him from Italy. Later, he took lessons and learned to play the accordion. As his love of music grew, he learned several other instruments, at one point he even considered a career as a music teacher. Starting in high school and continuing into college, Dave was a founding member of the locally famous satirical "Marching Male Chauvinist Pig Band" — a playful group of young men led by a tie-died clad drum major wielding a toilet bowl plunger for his baton. Performing in parades, festivals and a variety of community events, their upbeat music, creative marching routines and light-hearted engagement with the crowd made them a favorite for old and young alike. His love for music inspired his children's given names: daughter Aja (from Steely Dan), and son Ian (from Ian Anderson, flautist for Jethro Tull). Like so many of David's baby boomer generation, music of his youth was woven deeply into the fabric of who he was and remained so over the decades of his life.

After graduating from Humbolt State, David moved to Ellensburg, Washington, where he worked in Information Technology for Central Washington University. A few years later he relocated to the Seattle area and began what would be a long and successful technology career, more specifically in the cell phone sector. David was at the cutting edge of cell-phone technology in its infancy in the 1980s. He brought to his work a unique blend of technical aptitude and creativity. David would "prophesize" about the days to come when our phone would be on our person — not attached to the home we lived in — years before any of this became commonplace. It seemed unimaginable at the time, but David was steeped in the world of cellphone technology and had insights into what lied ahead that most did not. David worked for McCaw, T-Mobile and others. He spent the last 14 years with AT&T. He was planning to retire in June of 2023. David was respected and valued by the company and the colleagues he worked with. He and Marie were touched and incredibly grateful for all the practical and collegial support AT&T provided to David and his family during this difficult time.

David and Marie raised their family in the Seattle area and have remained there to this day. Both Aja and Ian left the Seattle area for a time to pursue their post-high school education, but have both since returned and remain close to and actively involved in their parents' lives. David was very proud and supportive of his children. Aja is the owner of a thriving, mobile holistic veterinarian practice in Seattle. Ian is training for his pilot's license and teaches several languages virtually to international students and professionals looking to enhance their English conversational skills.

What many people knew about David — and were fortunate enough to be a beneficiary of — was David's incredible passion for food and wine. As a teen on the ranch in Elk River, he helped smoke meats for extended family BBQ picnics, was at the table with the older generations when making the family Italian sausage recipe, and had the opportunity to work under the mentoring of trained butchers at a local meat purveyor at that time, Moxon's Meats. Along with his budding love of food was a growing passion for wine — both the wine itself and how it enhanced and paired with the foods he loved to prepare.

In the '70s, before Napa Valley and California wines became internationally known, he made trips to what were then small, virtually unknown wineries. He tasted batches with the winemakers and started to build his own wine collection. He would buy wines that he loved because of what they tasted like then, or wines that he could discern would be perfect some 10 or more years later. David built a wine collection that was envied by many. He loved nothing more than finding a great wine at a great price and had little tolerance for pretentiousness when it came to labels. He often said "anyone can spend $300 and get a great bottle of wine." He loved finding a gem for $8 and then sharing his find with others.

Sharing his passion and gift for food and wine with others was a key way David expressed his love and generosity. He planned, created and served multi-course wine dinners for many charity fundraisers, weddings and parties — simply too many to count. Many were held in public facilities or other people's homes (not his own kitchen!). David could step into an unknown kitchen and create a meal that would far exceed what most could do in our own familiar kitchens.

In the late '90s, David was one of three finalists in a Seattle Public Television (KCTS) cooking competition. He was invited to join the hosts of the show where he prepared his winning recipe: grilled veal tenderloin with morel mushroom gravy and smashed garlic potatoes. The recipe was also included in KCTS's annual Viewers Cookbook. For everyone who had the chance to watch David cook a meal for guests, there was simply no better context where his love for people shined through. He was tender-hearted at the core (although not everyone saw this side of David) and food was his love language of choice.

All of us who loved him mourn his passing and the heartache of a life cut short, but are grateful to have known and loved him.

As per David's wishes, there will not be a memorial at that time, but a celebration of life is planned for April 20, 2024, at David and Maries' country home in Monroe, Washington. Please reach out to Gene and Betty if you would like more information about the celebration.

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