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David E. Svendsen

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Memories & Candles

“I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I was a student in his 7th grade social studies class in Needham in the late 1960's. Whenever someone asks...Read More »
1 of 61 | Posted by: Rhett Cahill - Concord, MA

“Dearest Guna,I am so, so sorry to learn of David's passing. You both were such an inspiration to so many of us. His memory will live on in our...Read More »
2 of 61 | Posted by: Joanne Pransky - Sonoma County, CA

“My condolences to the Svendsen family. It has been several years since I last saw David but remember him as described in the obituary. He was a kind...Read More »
3 of 61 | Posted by: Scott Tromanhauser, MD - Belmont, MA

“Guna, What sad news! Dave was such an important part of our lives in the 70's. He took my fourth grade class on a memorable trip to Boston (he even...Read More »
4 of 61 | Posted by: Ellie Muldoon - The Villages, FL

“Sending my sincere condolences to your family. May prayer be a great comfort to you during this time 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ”
5 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“I am so sorry for your great loss. May the God who "binds up the brokenhearted" and "comforts all who mourn" (Isaiah 61:1, 2) sustain your family...Read More »
6 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“Jdavid thanks for up in Springfield 41 years ago and housin an guiding me to a fantastic life . Have an enlightened journey Robert...Read More »
7 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“Guna: I never met you or David, but in grade school my Dad took me to every Needham High School varsity basketball game. It was while watching...Read More »
8 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“May David continuously rest in peace after his continuous devotion to those whom he loved. ”
9 of 61 | Posted by: Sandra Wadoski - Las Vegas, NV

“Dear Guna:This is Bob Case, from your and David's Seabrook Affinity group in the Fenway in the distant past.I am so sorry to read of David's passing....Read More »
10 of 61 | Posted by: Robert Case - Boston, MA - Friend

“This condolence is an email exchange with my brother Ted Joyce, a college professor in NYC. Ted was a student of David's. I was a year behind Ted. ...Read More »
11 of 61 | Posted by: Bradford Joyce - Needham, MA

“Guna, Chris and I remember dating with you and Dave, camping with Brian and Sasha, such fun! You are a strong woman Guna and I know how much you...Read More »
12 of 61 | Posted by: Judy Radley Schoon - Laconia, NH

“I can't imagine my high school years without Dave and Guna. Their generosity and kindness sustained and blessed me in a millions ways, and I treasure...Read More »
13 of 61 | Posted by: Mary Harrington Power - Culver, IN

“Dear Guna, sending you my heartfelt sympathy. I am so sad, but I am also filled with deep gratitude for our friendship over all these years. Wish I...Read More »
14 of 61 | Posted by: Lawrence Johnson - Delray Beach, FL

“Dear Sasha, I'm so sorry for your loss. My condolences to your mother as well. I only met your father briefly, but it's clear from the memories...Read More »
15 of 61 | Posted by: Antonia Chiesa - Denver, CO

“My sympathies to David's family. I am saddened to hear of his premature death. He was a highly respected colleague as a teacher and administrator ...Read More »
16 of 61 | Posted by: Fred Tirrell - Barnstable, MA

“Dear Guna,I was a student of yours and Dave's in the alternative program at NHS. You taught me Russian and Swahili. I have fond memories of both of...Read More »
17 of 61 | Posted by: Judy Jaffe-Pearl - Millis, MA

“David was our class president from our freshman to senior year. In life he exhibited the great potential he had shown in high school. He became a...Read More »
18 of 61 | Posted by: Len Semprucci - Needham, MA

“I remember him from High School, alternative, he was such a positive influence. Prayers and Love, ”
19 of 61 | Posted by: Rebecca Geary

“Dave was a person to cherish. As a colleague many years ago, we met as he was building interest in alternative education at the high school level....Read More »
20 of 61 | Posted by: Mike Kelly - Needham - Friend

“My heart is aching ! And our world will be missing a big chunk with out him in it !This man was just one of a kind !God Bless you David !All our...Read More »
21 of 61 | Posted by: seana gaherin - Sandwich, MA

The good David we will never forget with his baby girl
22 of 61 | Posted by: seana gaherin

The delightful David  with his pride and joy!
23 of 61 | Posted by: seana gaherin

“Dear, Dear Sasha,I am heartbroken for you and your mother. I send hugs to you both and will continue to keep you in my thoughts. May you feel at...Read More »
24 of 61 | Posted by: Cindy Tanner - Denver, CO

“Improbable Players mourn the passing of a friend, board member, and recovery advocate and will miss him very much. We have posted a rememberance on...Read More »
25 of 61 | Posted by: Lynn Bratley - Watertown, MA

“Sasha, I met your dad once at your residency graduation, and my memory of him is that he was BIGGER than I imagined, which was saying something...Read More »
26 of 61 | Posted by: Rebecca Moles - Hartford, CT

“We are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave's passing. Our deepest sympathies to Guna and Sasha. I had a long and wonderful friendship with Dave,...Read More »
27 of 61 | Posted by: Tom Pugh - Needham, MA - friend

“I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave. I have very fond memories of him. Rest In Peace. ”
28 of 61 | Posted by: Gloria Pineo-Oliveira - MA

“I am very sad to learn of David's passing.David was a great friend, whom was instrumental in my early years of sobbriety. His kindness and guidance...Read More »
29 of 61 | Posted by: Doug Rodman - Milton, MA - Friend

“Dear Guna,We are sorry for your loss and thinking of you.Jan and Jack Pararas ”
30 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“Guna and Sasha, we have no words. Our hearts break for you. We celebrate David for the life force he was. How we will miss him. With love forever,...Read More »
31 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“Sasha and family, I'm so so sorry to hear this news. My condolences to you and the whole family. Maxine ”
32 of 61 | Posted by: Maxine Schmeidler - Worcester, MA

“Dear Guna,David's boundless energy, creativity, optimism, sense of humor and humanity will always be his legacy to all of us. What a joy and...Read More »
33 of 61 | Posted by: Armand Kazarian - Marshfield, MA

“Guna,I'm so very sad to hear about Dave's passing. I was in town to attend our class of '72 reunion just this past weekend. I said to my husband Bill...Read More »
34 of 61 | Posted by: Anne Judge Groener - Henderson, NV

“Guna & Sasha, I am so sorry for your loss. It is a loss for us all. Dave had a gift for understanding people. His visions and ideals have been a...Read More »
35 of 61 | Posted by: John Shea - Gloucester, MA

“I'm very sorry to hear that David has passed away! So many of my family have met David, Guna and Sasha at our Burt Lake escape and have fond...Read More »
36 of 61 | Posted by: Colleen Barkham - Indian River, MI

“Guna... Sending much love with prayers for blessings and rest... Lucy ”
37 of 61 | Posted by: Lucy Dudeney - Roslindale, MA

“Who said grown men do not cry? I have shed tears for Dave. One of my idols. ”
38 of 61 | Posted by: Walter Shields - Kiawah Island, SC

“My children basically assumed that David was a long-lost grandparent about 30 seconds after meeting him. With a mischievous sense of humor and...Read More »
39 of 61 | Posted by: Dan Lindberg - Denver, CO

40 of 61 | Posted by: MARIO BOCCABELLA - Wellesley, MA

“My condolences to my colleague Sasha and her mom on the passing of David. I met him once here on a visit to see Sasha during her training with our...Read More »
41 of 61 | Posted by: Andrew Sirotnak, MD - Aurora, CO

“Tom and I are so saddened to hear of Dave's passing. I remember Dave as always smiling and being a very patient and kind man. My thoughts and prayers...Read More »
42 of 61 | Posted by: Cheryl Duffy - Millis, MA

“I'm deeply saddened to hear that David's energy and passion have left us. He was a colleague and a friend through many years. I enjoyed his great...Read More »
43 of 61 | Posted by: Phil Wallas - Newton, MA

“George and I remember David as such a happy smiling dad. We spent many Saturdays with the Svendsons on the sidelines of the soccer field. He was such...Read More »
44 of 61 | Posted by: Ginny Gardner - Newton, MA

“Guna, I was saddened to hear of David's death. As a parent of NHS students as well as an Administrator there, I always regarded David with respect...Read More »
45 of 61 | Posted by: Phyllis Uhl - Needham, MA

“Guna and Sasha, I am so sorry to hear of David's passing. I send all my love and prayers to you both. David was my mentor and the reason I became a...Read More »
46 of 61 | Posted by: Robby Welch - Rangeley, ME

“So sorry to hear of Mr Svendsen's passing. He was one of my favorite teachers may he rest in peace ”
47 of 61 | Posted by: Sharon Prager - Needham, MA

“Dear Guna- David represented the very best of what teaching entails. I would not made it through high school without him, yourself, and the rest of...Read More »
48 of 61 | Posted by: David Webb - Austin, TX - student

“Dear Guna,So sorry to hear of Dave's passing.David was a major influence in my life, he inspired us to dream big, and to believe in endless...Read More »
49 of 61 | Posted by: Mark Governor - Carmel, CA

“Dear Guna and Sasha,My deepest most heartfelt prayers go out to you both at this time. David was one of my most beloved clients Ever. He was a warm,...Read More »
50 of 61 | Posted by: Natalie Spielberg - Roslindale, MA

“Guna - my love to you and Sasha. ”
51 of 61 | Posted by: Susan Yardley - Natick, MA

“He was such a light for me during a crazy time when school was a place that just didn't work for me. He created an environment where I could thrive...Read More »
52 of 61 | Posted by: Susan Yardley - Natick, MA

“Sending healing prayers to Guna and family. Remembering Dave fondly from Needham High Alterative Program! Much love,Jodi Alperin ”
53 of 61 | Posted by: Jodi Alperin - Milford, NH

“Dear Guna,I am so sorry to read of David's passing. I feel very fortunate to have known both of you when I was in the Needham Schools. My thoughts...Read More »
54 of 61 | Posted by: Jen Jovin - Arlington, VA

“Guna, I'm so sorry to hear that Dave passed. I was hoping to see you both at the class reunion this pass weekend, I live in Nevada now, so I will not...Read More »
55 of 61 | Posted by: Anne Groener - Henderson, NV

“My heart is with Guna and her daughter at this difficult time. Dave was my teacher way back in the 70s. I remember how he looked at Guna when 'no...Read More »
56 of 61 | Posted by: Cheryl Bain Lekousi - Needham, MA

“Guna, David was a fun loving, vibrant member of the Needham community and we will miss him. God strength to you and Sasha - may your love and...Read More »
57 of 61 | Posted by: Abby Watt - needham, MA

“Guna and Sasha,Such a sad and difficult time. Wishing you peace to bring you comfort, courage to help you face the days ahead, and loving memories to...Read More »
58 of 61 | Posted by: A friend

“I tremendously enjoyed working under David in the 90s. He was always very good to me, encouraging, funny, positive. David had a way of saying...Read More »
59 of 61 | Posted by: ken lundberg - Needham, MA

“Many of my cherished memories of working in Needham are connected to crossing paths with David! His intelligence, humor and caring made a difference...Read More »
60 of 61 | Posted by: Michelle David - Roslindale, MA

“David was my first supervisor in teaching twenty four years ago. From the start we clicked in terms of what we valued about this world and what we...Read More »
61 of 61 | Posted by: Karl Kraus - Medford, MA

David Svendsen, of Newton, Massachusetts, the beloved husband of Guna Svendsen and dearly cherished father of Dr. Sasha Svendsen passed peacefully in his sleep Monday, September 25, 2017 at the age of 74. He was a son of Needham from birth and was treasured by his family and many friends. He poured his love and energy into service of the town and was widely recognized and welcomed by the community because of it.
In his heart and soul, David was an educator who believed in building community through social activism. He was deeply committed to working for social justice. He recognized the value of all kinds of contributions and active engagement in projects big and small. He was the ultimate team player and emerged as a leader, inspiring others to lift each other up to their potential and best selves.
David graduated from Needham High School in 1961, where he played basketball and served as class president for 4 years. He went on to captain the basketball team at the University of Maine and he was a member of the Owl and Skull honors societies, and served on many advisory and campus committees.Then he served in the National Guard. He went on to graduate work at Boston University and Harvard.
Ever the consummate educator, he believed in the importance and joy of lifelong learning. David helped to establish The Alternative High School within Needham High School; he was a housemaster at Pollard Middle School; he designed and established the TEC School program (serving a 10 town collaborative), and the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound Middle School on Thompson Island, where he also served as headmaster. He was a founding member of Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR).
Beyond the classroom, he dedicated his efforts to myriad projects, boards and committees, including the Improbable Players, Solar Sam's Needham Solar Array, Plugged In, mentoring high school students in Transitioning Together in Newton, and teaching News Talk at the Newton Senior Center.
Most of all, David had a love for life and a special gift for sharing his passions with young people. He was a big thinker who lived large and truly believed that we could all make a difference, one person at a time … and he was grateful to be one of those people.
David is survived by his wife and daughter, his sister, Judi Benson, and brother, Paul Svendsen, and the nieces and nephews of the Svendsen and Benson families.
Visiting hours will be held in the Eaton Funeral Home, 1351 Highland Ave, Needham,on Thursday, October 5th from 4-8pm. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend. A celebration memorial of his life will follow on Friday, October 6th at 11am at The Congregational Church of Needham, 1154 Great Plain Ave, Needham. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider Engaging Schools (, formerly known as ESR.