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David Wayne Root, 86, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on January 8, 2024 at his Township of Richfield home. David was born to Carl and Velma Root on May 28, 1937 in Nescopeck, PA. Preceded in death by Carl in 1964, Velma remarried Charles Boyko in 1967. Charles and David had a father/son like relationship until Charles’ death in 2003.
David, or Dave to most of us, grew up in Nescopeck, a small, quiet town in east central Pennsylvania along the banks of the Susquehanna river just across the river from Berwick. Dave’s older brother, Carl Fredrick Root (Fred) was 15 years Dave’s senior. While the age difference made it difficult for them to form a typical brotherly relationship, Dave was always quick to boast of his brother’s WW II service record which included piloting bombing missions over Axis occupied Europe. Dave (or little Freddy) was one of Fred’s greatest admirers until Fred’s death in 1992.
Dave was an outgoing, intelligent and goofy kid. As a young man, he used these traits to his advantage. One day, his Mom denied his request to borrow the car. Undeterred, Dave concocts a dubious scheme using some thread and a casual “see ya later” in which the car keys, discreetly tied to the thread, would magically follow him out the door. His Mom discovered the plot and Dave ended up walking that night.
When Dave wasn’t pranking his parents, his early years were spent racing go-karts, working on cars, and getting into trouble with his buddies Dale, Dan, Frank, Fred (Squeak), and Terry at Pollacks Barbeque stand. His class of 1955 senior yearbook acknowledged him as having the best personality, nicest eyes, most popular, and many more. Typical of his goofy humor, his yearbook goal was to “Go to aeronautics school and set a record for lowest marks”.
Nancy Jo Bobersky, a waitress at Pollacks, observed Dave and his buddies and she vowed to marry that guy. Years later, she made her move upon meeting Dave at her brother’s graduation party. Dave’s date that night happened to also be named Nancy but fate corrected the mismatch and Dave and Nancy Jo wed on February 18, 1961.
Dave received his mechanical engineering associate degree in 1958 from the Pennsylvania State University (Go Lions!). Dave was a consummate professional during his lengthy engineering career. He began his career at American Car Foundry where he designed railway cars including a car used to carry minuteman missiles up and down the east coast and midwest. In 1959, Dave enlisted in the Army and served in the National Guard in order to continue his ACF employment and serve his country. In 1965, he was awarded an honorable discharge as a Staff Sergeant. During this time he served in the 109th Infantry Division and operated an M48 tank.
From there he joined Beloit Corporation designing paper machine components which eventually brought him, Nancy and son to Beloit, WI. While in Beloit, they added a daughter and completed their family of four. Dave spent several years at Beloit before accepting a position at Outboard Marine Corporation in Galesburg, IL. His weekly commute to and from Galesburg saw him pile his 6’2’’ frame into a tiny VW bug. He hated that car especially in the winter months because his feet would freeze during his drive. Imagine his relief when Felker Brothers offered him his next opportunity. During the country’s 200th birthday, the family prepared for the relocation to Marshfield, a small, central WI town. At Felkers, he combined his analytical problem solving skills with his always positive personality to launch a new 25 year long career as a sales engineer. In 1982, Dave returned to the paper industry when he joined Voith. He spent the next 18 years covering WI and the UP territories until his retirement in 2000. Dave always conducted himself with the utmost integrity and sincerity, and cherished his personal and professional relationships.
In retirement there was no slowing down. He built things, made music, conducted trains, flew model planes, and tried to best his wife’s golf game. He even tried to top the family record for largest walleye. Nancy still holds the record by 0.25 pounds.
Dave’s projects were legendary among his friends and family. From building bedrooms for his grandkids to music boxes to fund disaster relief efforts, no project was too big or too small. His knack for math, physics and electricity usually kept him out of trouble, but of course projects rarely complete without a hiccup and Dave’s were no exception. Like the time he recruited his son Dan to help build a new deck in time for his daughter Susan’s graduation party. Dan was home on spring break (spring being the operative word - think wet ground) and Dave had rented a gas powered auger to drill 15 post holes for the deck’s support. We fired up the auger and sunk it 3 or 4 feet into Marshfield’s clay like ground. It was stuck. He called Nancy who had been watching from the kitchen but the three of us could not move the auger. Dan proclaimed that it was hopeless and retreated back to his mid-day nap. Nancy returned to the kitchen to await next steps. Dave got to work. While the rest of us abandoned his efforts, he was busy constructing a 15’ tall A-frame structure that looked like a swing set. At the apex was a hand winch hooked to a block and tackle. Nancy woke Dan from his nap and told him, “You better get out there and help your Dad”. For the next several hours, we dug holes and used the hand winch to pull the auger from the wet, cement-like soil. The support posts were set by the end of the day and the deck completed by Susan’s graduation. When Dave set his mind on a project it got done and his work product was nothing short of the highest quality. For those of us lucky enough to possess some of his work, his legacy lives on in his craftsmanship.
Dave loved strumming his ukulele and banjo. At one point he even tried to pick up the drums (poor Nancy)! He shared this talent with others through the church’s Praise Band and with family and friends around a campfire. Good old fashioned sing-alongs were a favorite. After his recent stroke, Dave found himself unable to play and even struggled to sing. His close pickin’ friend John visited Dave weekly to shoot the breeze and play a few tunes. John’s visits reminded Dave of music’s healing powers. It wasn’t long before Dave was playing and singing which seemed nothing short of miraculous. Dave’s personal favorite? “You Are My Sunshine” which was always dedicated to Nancy.
Dave had a lifelong fascination with flying. He loved to build model planes. He started with simple hand controlled models which were easy to fly from the back yard. Eventually, he built up a collection of remote control planes and helicopters. Dave packed his flying gear and transported it to their winter retreats. He would spend hours at the flying field with his fellow enthusiasts trading tips and swapping crash stories. It was always a good day when he returned with all of his planes intact but was never discouraged when they were damaged in a crash.
Since his early professional experiences Dave always had an affection for all things train. His imagination became reality in a small section of the basement. The winter townscape took shape gradually over the years while Dave painstakingly brought his vision to life with a meticulous attention to detail. Centered in the trainscape he ran multiple model trains around a network of tracks, tunnels, roads, creeks and bridges all of which he built from nothing. Every year he set up a special train under the Christmas tree for friends and family to enjoy. His last Christmas was no exception.
Dave’s faith inspired much of his life. He was not merely a church goer, he studied scripture and the lessons of those wiser than he to become a better person. He loved sharing his findings with others through various ministry efforts and was particularly passionate about working with young folk. Some of his work colleagues even nicknamed Dave the Reverend because he was always ready with an inspirational quote or advice. Recently, Dave channeled his desire to help others into several disaster relief efforts, including the Joplin tornado, hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, 2008 Iowa floods, and more. If someone needed help, Dave was ready and willing.
Dave simply made the lives of those around him better and for this we are grateful.
Dave is survived by his wife Nancy, son Daniel and his wife Denise, daughter Susan and her husband Kevin Mitchell, grandchildren Jacob and his wife Julie, Zayne and his wife Jamie, Nikolas, Cella and Anya, and great grandchild Rylan. He is preceded in death by his grandchild Ryan Mitchell.
Memorial services will be held at Zion Community Church, 2106 N Peach Ave. Marshfield, WI, on Monday, January 15, 2024 at 11:00 A.M. Friends and family are welcome to visit from 10:00 A.M. until the time of services on Monday at the church.