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David Edward Junker
December 11, 1950 ~ September 2, 2022 (age 71) 71 Years Old
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By any measure David Junker had an extraordinary life: as a sailplane pilot; a sailor and sailmaker; a historian of the early development of the automobile and of the golden age of Grand Prix auto racing; a certified aircraft engine mechanic and a restorer of World War II aircraft engines for hydroplane racing boats; an angler and professional fly tier; a student of Chinese language and calligraphy; a photographer; and so much more. That he did these things as a kidney dialysis patient for nearly forty-two years makes his adventuresome life all the more remarkable. David succumbed to what were complications from his kidney disease, which he had managed so successfully and so long, with the help of extraordinary doctors and clinicians. His visits, three times a week, to a dialysis center did not hold him back. He traveled widely in this country and even to Italy. He climbed Mount Hoffman in Yosemite. He piloted a magnificent pleasure boat on Puget Sound. He could cast a fly rod masterfully whether standing precariously in the bow of a float boat rushing headlong on a teeming Yellowstone River or wading in waist-high waters on the rocky bed of Northern California’s Hat Creek. In his fifties, David went full-time to community college to follow a physically demanding course in aircraft engine mechanics, and he somehow worked classes and shop work around his dialysis so seamlessly that no one at the school ever knew of David’s infirmity. David was committed to using his life to help other patients. In 2017 the distinguished Northwest Kidney Centers in Seattle, where David was a patient, presented him with their highest honor for his role in patient care, advocacy, and research—David was by then something of a medical miracle and worked hand in hand with doctors and scientists refining the artificial kidney. “His example inspires hope in others that they too can live long and well on dialysis,” the citation reads.
David was born in Rochester on December 11, 1950, to William and Dorothy Junker, a twin, his brother being Thomas Junker of Arlington, Virginia. He grew up in Pittsford and graduated from Pittsford Central High School (class of ’68). He went on to Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he majored in history, graduating cum laude in 1973. The following fall he enrolled in the East Asia Institute at Columbia University to study that reemerging part of the world; he received his M. A. in 1976.
David went deep into any new area of interest and always became a serious student of it: ballet; art and art history; the philosophy of Michel de Montaigne; fish perception and psychology; domestic architecture; historic trains and airplanes and modelbuilding; early photographers; Pueblo Pottery; Renaissance arms and armor and the 18th century Pennsylvania- Kentucky rifle; and the ancient game of backgammon. He was an especially serious student of the early photographic record and the indigenous cultures of the American West and the Pacific Northwest, regions of the country where he lived for the past thirty years and that he loved most deeply. David was the combination of all these things, and a loving husband to his wife, Patricia, and a devoted buddy to his beloved rescue cats. They and his friends, his mentors, and his doctors and nurses, sustained him throughout a long, vibrant life.