David Belding died by his own hand in Santa Barbara on Sunday, Sept 8. He had just celebrated his 74th birthday. He had lived and worked in Santa Barbara for the past 25 years. He had recently become homeless, was in a car accident, and had to relinquish his cat.
David was the son of teachers, and his family lived in Seattle, Arizona, Brazil, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. David was drafted into the US Army in 1965 and served as an MP in Germany. He attended Officer Candidate School, went to Panama Jungle School and as a Second Lieutenant in the 101st Airborne, was sent to Vietnam in 1967.
He served two tours, was highly decorated, and reached the rank of Captain.
After his tours, David hitchhiked around the world, became active in Veterans for Peace, and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD. He was in counseling for many years and pursued BA and MA degrees in Psychology. He worked as a counselor for anger management, with the Ca. EDD office in Santa Barbara and then for the Veterans Center as a PTSD counselor. His particular focus was with the homeless population.
During his post war recovery David lived on the Big Island of Hawaii with his parents and learned gardening and landscaping. Upon retirement in Santa Barbara he became an avid gardener and was the grounds manager at his apartment complex. He specialized in cherry tomatoes and rare palms.
David had a wonderful and wacky sense of humor, could imitate accents and sounds, and bemoaned friends and family not ready with a new joke. He did not tolerate fools gladly and was often prickly and critical and couldn’t tolerate cruelty or injustice. He never recovered from the moral injury he suffered in Vietnam. He remained physically fit his whole life and was a gifted photographer. In his younger years he played guitar and always had a harmonica in his pocket.
David is survived by his sister Barbara of Santa Fe, New Mexico, his niece Thea Khama of Gaborone, Botswana and his beloved cat Kea. Donations may be made to any non-profit veterans assistance group.There will be no memorial service.