June 13, 1940 – September 25, 2016
David Budbill died peacefully at his home in the early morning hours of September 25th with his wife of 50 years, Lois Eby, and his daughter, Nadine Wolf Budbill, by his side. A passionate lover of his family and friends, the woods, and all things human, he did not want to leave this life but over the past three years his Progressive Supranuclear Palsy—a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease—brought him to this moment.
David was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1940 to a streetcar driver and a minister’s daughter. His colorful life included being a track star in high school, attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City, teaching at Lincoln University (a historically Black college in Pennsylvania), moving to Northern Vermont in the late 1960s and building his own house, laboring on a Christmas tree farm, playing myriad musical instruments, working for racial and economic justice, tending a large vegetable garden, cutting his own wood, and writing a staggering amount of creative material.
He is the author of ten books of poems, seven plays, two novels, a collection of short stories, two picture books for children, and the libretto for an opera. During his prolific career David performed his work in many venues—from schools and prisons in Vermont to avant-garde performance spaces in New York City—often with William Parker and other musical collaborators. Several new books of David’s will be published posthumously, including his newest book of poems titled Tumbling Toward the End (Copper Canyon Press) and a novel titled Broken Wing (Green Writers Press). More can be learned at www.davidbudbill.com.
David is survived by his wife, Lois, his daughter, Nadine, her partner, Mia Roethlein, and his granddaughter Riley Wolf Budbill-Roethlein who gave him much joy in the last two years of his life and the first two of hers. He is also survived by his cousins Martha Cross and Dick Miller, his brother in law and sister in law, Frank and Gayle Eby, many good friends and readers of his work, his work itself, and the woods where he loved to be.
His ashes will be returned to his favorite white pine stand in the woods at the home in Wolcott, VT, where he lived and wrote for 45 years. The family wishes to thank the wonderful team at Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice who guided us and our dedicated caregivers through this challenging time with great skill and compassion.
An event to celebrate David’s life and work is planned for 2017. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Copper Canyon Press, his longtime publisher, or an arts or peace and justice organization of your choice.
Out in the Woods
The only time I’m really free is when I’m out in the woods
cutting firewood, stacking brush, clearing trails.
Just the chain saw, the dog and me.
Heave and groan, sweat and ache.
Work until I can’t stand it anymore. Take a break.
Sit on the needle strewn ground up against a big pine tree,
drink some water, stare out through the woods, pet the dog.
Stretch out on the ground, take a nap, dog’s head on my lap.
Ah, this would be the time and place and way to die.
from Nine Taoist Poems