Obituary: David Darrell Droppers

Posted at 12:21 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2018-08-10 11:28:40-04

This was not the way we had planned our Spring and Summer to go. Life takes us on trips even if we don’t want to go. David was sick on June 9th. He went to the hospital in Bozeman and was there 13 days. He had an aneurism rupture on his pancreas. He spent four days in ICU, surgery, respirator and everything that goes with it. On the 22nd he was transported by air ambulance to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, Washington. His son, Dan, met him there and stayed with him for seven days. On the 29th, he came home and I took care of him. We had occupational therapists and home healthcare. On July 21st, we called 911 and he spent many days in the hospital. His goal was to get out of the hospital so he could celebrate his granddaughter, Emma Baldwin’s, 12th birthday on August 8th—and he did. He was home a few days when his pancreatitis and stomach pain was so bad that he was back in the hospital on August 14th and was there until he passed away on Sunday, the 27th of August. He spent 35 days in the hospital.

David was the kindest, gentlest gentleman that we have ever known. The patience of Job. He never lost his temper, did not swear. He treated me like a queen. Although I have had fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, whiplash and chronic fatigue, he loved me through all of it. He would say, “OK, Honey, you’ve done enough for today, you need to rest.” He was my caretaker—a man of few words, quiet and loving all of our days together.

We were high school sweethearts, best friends and soul mates from the time I was 15 and he was 16. We were married on Valentine’s Day 1959. I was a senior in high school and he signed my report card. Oh, how happy and in love we were as married teenagers, and that never changed. We were complete opposites. I was silly, talkative and laughing most of the time. He was quiet and dependable, a hard worker who always brought his paycheck home and gave it to me to pay the bills and take care of our finances, home, children and pets. I loved to cook and entertain, have neighbors and friends and relatives in our home. David would have liked it if there was just the two of us. As long as we were together he was happy. When we got married I told him, “It’s just not fair that the groom is prettier than the bride.” Oh, what a handsome man; he never believed it but I knew better.

On September 21st, our first son was born. We didn’t know that our love could grow so much more. On January 24th, our second son was born—two precious babies by the time I was 19 and David was 20. People would say, “Oh, that must be so much work.” No, never, it was pure joy, Daren and Daniel 15 months apart.

We had a family conference which we did when important things happened. This meeting was about adding a baby girl to our home. Everyone voted “yes” and nine months later I got the phone call saying, “Your baby girl is here.” Dave was working in Havre when I called him to say, “Congratulations, David, you have a beautiful baby girl.” I was 26 and Dave was 27. It was a great decision and we named her Deanna Lynn. What a joy to have our family of five. So much laughter and fun. Dave would take the kids camping, fishing, skating, snowmobiling, to parties and to school functions. About the time Deanna was two and a half I got very sick, was in bed and unable to do very much. That’s when David and Deanna totally bonded. After several years the doctors gave me the right medicine and I started to make progress. That’s when the problems began. Dave and I started doing things together and his little girl did not want to share. I told her, “He is my Husband and your Father.” “No way,” she said, “My Hub-band”. She has been at the hospital days and nights since June 9th. At 50, she still wants her father and she sat beside him hour after hour, day after day.

David became a sheet metal journeyman—the first five years apprenticeship—then working for McLees Sheet Metal, Bozeman Sheet Metal, and later, Claud Wilson and Company. Dave loved his work. He said, “I enjoy it so much I would do it without pay.” But, of course, he had a family to raise. When the unions went out in Montana in the 1980s, he had to go out of state to find a job. He was union all the way.

David went to work in Bremerton, Washington. Then we moved to Boise, Idaho, for close to a year. They asked him to stay but, for some reason, he decided not to. He got the call for a job on Whidbey Island working as a sheet metal fabricator on the Naval Hospital on Oak Harbor. He turned 50 when we lived there. It was a 2½ year job and oh, what a beautiful place to live. Not the old Navy barracks we rented, but the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the trees and forest, Deception Pass and all the water. We would take the ferry and go to Orcas Island and Friday Harbor, sit and eat ice cream and watch the people. We loved going to Anacortes, La Conner and Coupeville. We had so much fun. Then David took his next job in Seattle, Washington. After the hospital job was finished, he would take the ferry back and forth to Port Townsend to work on a huge yacht, helping to build it.  It lasted six years. Our sons, Daren and Dan, and his family lived in different parts of Seattle, so that was great. Deanna and her family would fly in for visits and shopping trips.

Then Dave started to have body pains from his hard labor. He had a rotator cuff that was badly torn. He had surgery. It was a difficult recovery. Then, carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists. He knew his sheet metal work was coming to a halt. Then we were T-boned in a car accident. David’s head hit the driver’s side window and that was his fifth brain concussion. He never completely recovered from that. He came and told me, “I’m done”. We were moving back to Bozeman. He retired at 58 years old.

David was born to Albert and Irma (Reinhardt) Droppers on February 16, 1940, in Miller, South Dakota. He attended Manhattan Grade School and graduated from Manhattan High School in 1958. He played football, joined DeMolay, and went to the Presbyterian Church where he was baptized by Rev. Goodenburger. We were married in that church by Rev. Ian Young. Dave was a Cub Scout leader and worked at the theater for not much money, but all the popcorn he could eat and movies for free. He had great friends, Dick (his best man), Walter, Joe and Larry. They were not really happy when he started spending most of his time with me. We were very blessed because my parents, Floyd and Betty Rash, and his parents became friends and we loved our in-laws together.

Bob and Deanna gave us many trips as Christmas gifts—all expenses paid. David and Bob went deep sea fishing. We all took a cruise to Alaska. It was amazing and we stopped at each port. A trip to Canada and Glacier Park, a trip to San Diego, eating and enjoying the lighthouse, and the Coronado Mother’s Day Brunch. We had two trips to North Carolina. Bob, Deanna, BreeAnna, Emma, Ellie, Dan and Kris. We stayed a week each time. Great memories. There would have been more trips but for Dave’s and my health started failing. But it was fun while it lasted. So many holidays, birthday parties, BBQs.

David was grinning from ear to ear when he received his coveted moose permit. He did get his big moose. He did like to hunt, enjoyed his guns, and did a lot of reloading. He was remarkable in being able to build. One of his great pleasures was going to the hardware stores—all of them. He had the time, the money and the patience to wander each and every store.

David is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joan; son, Daniel Ray (Kris Kotan) Droppers, grandson, David William and granddaughter, Kendra Droppers; daughter, Deanna Lynn (Bob) Baldwin, granddaughter, Kami (Josh) Reihman, granddaughter, BreeAnna Benz, granddaughters, Emma Grace and Ellie Hope Baldwin, two grandsons, Tyler and Ian Baldwin; great-grandchildren, Jayden and Amarie Enis, great-grandchildren, S.J. and Aurora; his sister, Pat Cooper; sister and brother-in-law, Leon and Eleanor Gover; and many nieces and nephews and extended family.                   

He is preceded in death by his son, Daren Dean Droppers and granddaughter, Sophie Laine Baldwin; by his parents, Albert and Irma Droppers; brother, Leonard Kelly; brother, Larry Droppers; sister and brother-in-law, Ray and Carolyn Phillips; and brother-in-law, George Cooper.

David was a very private person so, at his request, there will be no public services. A Celebration of his Life with family has been privately held.  His ashes will be interred at the Columbarium at Sunset Hills Cemetery.

David was “the best Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather and Friend.  His star is shining bright”.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.