David Thomas Ferreira
Our gentle blues brother left us quietly and suddenly on June 17th, 2017.
Children of the San Joaquin, David, his brother Carlos and his sister Glory grew up wading in the creeks of Los Banos when they ran cold, clean and tufted with watercress for our grandmothers to flavor their soups. The creeks died with the advent of the San Luis Dam on August 18, 1962. Our nine-year old brother slipped away from my family as fifteen thousand people clamored for a look at a young President, John F. Kennedy, and Governor Pat Brown, as they gave the signal to detonate the first charges inaugurating the site. David had wound his way through the crowds and managed to squeeze himself onto the podium to shake the President’s hand. The President looked down, noticed him, shook his hand and lifted him up. “Is anyone missing their little boy?”
He raised fancy pigeons, and each one had a name. When his sister began breeding German roller canaries for their songs and vivid colors, David visited them often, perching below the aviaries and listening to their complex melodies. Like humpback whales, each generation added flourishes to their songbook. We’d cover the furniture with drop cloths and set them free, watching them glide, dip and soar through the house in formation behind the Alpha male. Always they returned to their open cages for snacks – dandelion greens, apple slices and fresh English rose petals from the garden.
He was a free spirit and a wild soul. He treasured his connection with his family, revered his elders and felt the suffering of strangers. He thumbed his way through the backroads of Arkansas, Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, always finding work to pour himself into. He volunteered at local homeless shelters bathing disabled men and talking with his harmonica to the runaways.
David, like his father, had a gift with food. An inspired, self-taught blues harmonica player, he was welcomed into many Santa Cruz bands at the Catalyst. And like his mother, he was a restless, soulful poet. He developed a passion for roses late in life and became adept at pruning. His rescue cat, Tabbers, was his joy, his in-house Yoda.
Like his pigeons, David always returned home when his wanderlust abated. Home to him was Santa Barbara, the crucible where he fought his demons with the unfailing support of family and friends. Creativity, music and love were his weapons of choice.
He is survived by his brother Carlos of San Francisco and his Santa Barbara sister, Glorianna. He was predeceased by his beloved and loving parents, Henry and Marianna Ferreira of Los Banos, and will be remembered by many wonderful cousins (many of them musicians), aunts, mentors, Stalwart House friends, his sponsors and many satisfied diners. He was happiest wielding his skillets, knives and secret spices for patrons of The 1129, Brophy Brothers, the Montecito Inn, Ryan’s Place and all the truck-stops and small-town cafés he served during his gypsy days. His omelets and hearty entrees with a Mediterranean flair were mouth-watering and original.
David was a gentle and loving man, unassuming and generous. He will be deeply missed and remembered by those who really knew him. He looked up to his brother, a powerful role model and his medical advocate during the UCLA transplant process. He loved the fishing expeditions and dinner/movie nights his brother planned. He shared frequent and meaningful conversations with his sister. He cared about people and confronted bullies with hatred, injustice and cruelty in their hearts. He expressed gratitude and prayed for all the people who lent him a hand.
We are profoundly indebted to those who helped David; the irreverent and funny Sister Maxine Vogan of Ottsville, PA; Bill, Miss Sarah and Tom Stewmon of the Ole Sawmill Café in Forrest City, AK; Bob Rose, a restaurant entrepeneur who never lost faith in David. Drs. Robert Shaffer and Wanda Matchett of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, AK; in Santa Barbara, Drs. Kristen Corbett, Alois Zahner, Jeffrey S. Sager, Thomas V. Aguirre, Erin Moore and Jared Perrin. Dr. Mohamed El-Kabany and his staff at UCLA’s Pfleger Transplant Institute, and especially to all the selfless, kind nurses and assistants who helped care for and comfort David through his many harrowing surgeries. Special blessings are reserved for his caring neighbors, Drew and Javier, and Dr. Tom Eby of CARES, who helped David jump-start the will to live and begin the long walk back towards life and inner peace.
A Santa Barbara Memorial Service with some of his favorite music – Mississippi Delta blues, Dylan, Clapton and Neal Young – is planned for what would have been David’s 64th Birthday in September. A later family service will follow in his birthplace.
David’s mantra was “Nothing But Love.” We know he’d be happy if we all made kindness, courtesy and forgiveness a daily practice in our fragile world.
“Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, Sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” (Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 5, Scene 2)