Around the turn of the 17th century, William Shakespeare penned the following about a legendary hero: “His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world ‘This was a man!’” Four centuries later, Dave Angell’s life gives that famous verse a dynamic, contemporary meaning. For Dave was a person with a passion for living and a propensity for giving.

Dave Angell passed away on July 21. He was 84.

Dave was a close friend of mine starting in 1966 when we became involved with the Governor’s Physical Fitness Council of Wisconsin. Dr. David Angell was appointed as the medical consultant for Governor’s Council’s Region 6 and later became a member of the state council’s executive committee. He helped organize a prodigious region-wide jogathon in May 1967. At that event some 200 runners covered 185 miles, and Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers presented certificates to the participants. Dave organized the event again in 1968 with Gov. Warren Knowles doing the presentations. 

In February 1969, Dave and I cofounded the Indianhead Track Club at the Eau Claire YMCA . I was elected president and he was elected executive secretary, and we served together until 1975. Dave and his family eventually became my neighbors. So during those formative years of the ITC, I often knocked on the open door of the Angells’ residence to consult with him. 

Dave’s vital position entailed comprehensive record keeping and communication before such things were computerized. For many years the ITC meetings were held at the Sacred Heart Hospital Pathology Lab where Dave worked as a pathologist. Dave left office in 1975, but he and Joan continued as ITC archivists for several decades, during which the road running club swelled to over 200 members throughout west-central Wisconsin. Additionally he and Joan assisted at the ITC’s many events. In short, without the efforts of Dave and Joan Angell there would be no Indianhead Track Club. 

Dave’s athletic interests included much more than running. Swimming, skiing, biking, canoeing – he did all with enthusiasm. And if you knew him for any length of time, you knew his passions were by no means confined to athletics. He was a skilled bird watcher, wildflower expert, art admirer, opera buff, philanthropist, photographer, history enthusiast and environmentalist. His interests were limitless.

Dave got a taste for adventure early in life. With a college roommate, he paddled some 1,200 miles from Evanston, Illinois, to New Orleans on the Fox and Mississippi rivers. Later on, he and Joan traced the Lewis and Clark expedition, and along the way, canoed the Missouri Breaks in Montana.

Dave became an avid bicyclist. Although he competed in a few races, other challenges eventually trumped his racing interests. In four different years on their bicycles, Dave and Joan followed the Way of St. James medieval pilgrimage routes in Europe, traveling hundreds of miles from France to the terminus in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. 

“You have to put something on the line,” he told me, long ago. I think he meant that all activities deserved one’s best effort, not a half hearted or reckless attempt. It was that way with Dave.  

What were the elements that formed this gentle man, the features that could make Nature stand up and take notice? Wisdom, compassion, curiosity, courage, integrity, stability, friendliness and adventure. These were a few of the elements that formed Dave Angell. All of them combined to mold a person who “put something on the line.”

David E. Weiss of Eau Claire turned to freelance writing after retiring from dentistry 15 years ago.