LEWISBURG -- David Wallace Milne, 76, of 203 Stadium Blvd., died Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at his home surrounded by his family.

David's boyhood was unusual, even for his time. Raised by pacifist parents, the late Cyrus and Edna (Seigmund) Milne, he lived in a racially integrated neighborhood, and, like most boys, found friends and excitement in sports. David, however, turned to teaching himself skills in music and literature to enrich his experiences.

The playground at PS 36 in St. Albans, N.Y., echoed with shouts from stickball and baseball teams. Dave was one of the three white members on the first integrated team and the only white on a team that won the Park Department Championship three years in a row. Growing up in an African American neighborhood was a heady experience; his neighbors included Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Count Basie, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers. Monopoly games, roaming deserted buildings, getting into fights and sneaking into forbidden movies were among his childhood memories. To get to school and his favorite haunts, the libraries at St. Albans and Jamacia, he literally had to cross the tracks.

As examples of his ability at self-education, he taught himself to read music by following the scores of the then new Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. He outlined time-maps of H.G. Wells' "Outline of History." Later, he taught himself typing by translating the Latinized Golden Fleece into English. David was a person who lived through books. The incipient scholar listed all of Sherlock Holmes' characters and plotted their interactions. He read the works of Jules Verne, Robert L. Stevenson, Alexander Dumas, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, W.T. Farrell, Robert Sherwood and Mickey Spillane and immersed himself in science fiction.

David's accomplishments and love for music developed as he learned the piano, clarinet, mandolin and sax. Soon, he was using this talent to start the first orchestra of mental patients at Long Island's South Oaks Hospital, where he worked. In addition, he was winning Youth Methodist Fellowship awards for designing temperance posters while winning at poker, played on the stoops with neighborhood guys.

After the Second World War, Dave moved to Long Island, where he met the former Marcia Lorayne West, his wife of 53 years, whom he married on Sept. 7, 1957. Among his many skills, he played in a band, tended bar, was a garbage man in Hempstead and the state park, had a newspaper job at Newsday and graduated with a master's degree at Hofstra University. As was true of many young men of his age, military service called. The Army's gift for matching the man with his ability was shown by assigning David -- he from a pacifist family -- to develop "train-fire," a technique of popping-up targets instead of the stable bulls-eye sharp shooters setup.

At first, David resisted psychology as a career because of the use of insulin-shock treatments and lobotomies -- standard practice in the 1950s. Nonetheless, he headed from the Army post in Georgia to Cornell for the Ph.D. program. When David arrived in Lewisburg, decorated with a doctorate and a postdoctoral, the family included three toddlers, Jack, Greg and Andy, ages 3, 2 and 1! Marcia and David spent many a festive evening with the other newcomers - the Keens and Wagners - and mentors, Candlands, Smiths and Teevans. Poker playing continued; Ernie Craven organized picnics and baseball games for the young families. Among those listed were 24 children under the age of 10.

At Bucknell, the small department required adaptability, with members teaching six different topics: everyone was a utility infielder. David recalls rarely teaching the same course twice, but history and systems, learning, statistics and perception became his specialties. In the early 1970s, David began studying computer psychology in Colorado. The rest is history -- from slide rule to punch card sorters to mainframe, and so on. David retired from Bucknell University in 1999, where he was professor of psychology for 35 years.

Most recently, he was a member and treasurer of the Union County Historical Society.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are three sons, Jack and his wife, Clare, of Gettysburg, Gregory and his wife, Laurie, of Chicago, and Andrew and his husband, Blythe Davis, of Boston; four grandchildren, Lila, Phineas, Brennan and Liam; nephew, David Milne and his wife Gina; a great-niece, Samantha; and a great-nephew, Anthony.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by one brother, Bruce Milne.

Services will be private and at the convenience of the family.

If friends so desire, contributions in David's name may be made to World Vision, P.O. Box 78481, Tacoma, WA 98481-8481.

The family is being assisted by the Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, South Second and St. Louis streets, Lewisburg.

Trending Video

Recommended for you