David J. Chapman, PhD, DSc

Date of Birth

December 12, 1939

Date of Death

August 19, 2021

David J. Chapman, PhD, DSc, born December 12, 1939 passed away from natural causes on August 19, 2021.

David was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Phylis Claire and Valentine Jackson Chapman. He emigrated to England with his family in 1940, and in 1946 the family moved to Aukland, New Zealand where, after the war, his Father, a marine biologist, was on the faculty and head of the Botany Department of the University of Aukland.

David received an early introduction to the classics and developed a love of languages. He studied Latin for nine years and Greek for three. He also developed a love of calligraphy, having been taught by the calligraphist to the Queen, and produced many wonderful works until recent years.

At the University of New Zealand (now University of Aukland) he received his BSc degree in Botany in 1960. At Scripps Institution of Oceanography, David received his PhD in 1965. His postdoctoral work as a research associate marine biologist was in Brookhaven National Laboratory until 1967, and he subsequently taught at the University of Chicago until 1973, then moved to the University of California, Los Angeles until 1994. He took the position of Dean of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994 and continued until 2000, after which he continued his full time work in research and guiding his graduate students at UCSB.

In all the memorials received since his death, it is clear that he took to heart a saying by Stephen Grellet: “I expect to pass through this world but once: any good thing that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”. David was a loving and encouraging husband, father and grandfather. In his work, he put his students and responsibilities first. He was also a philanthropist, freely giving money to the organizations he treasured.

David is survived by his wife of 34 years, Claudia Chapman, his daughter, Amanda Shelton, his granddaughter, Carissa Shelton, his step-son, Keith Bussell, his brother, Michael Chapman, and his second wife, Judy Hastings. He is sorely missed by his family, former graduate students, and colleagues, but his good humor, knowledge, and caring, will live forever in all our hearts and memories.

David was preceded in death by his youngest brother, Peter Chapman.

A memorial will be arranged in the future when the Covid pandemic has ceased.

In lieu of flowers, please send a contribution in David’s name to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, 1460 N Fairview Ave, Goleta, CA 93117, or the Nature Conservancy.


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