From Abby and Deborah:
Our dad David Gitlitz died in the early morning of December 30, 2020, in his home city of Oaxaca, Mexico. Despite his vivid spirit, Covid proved too much for his compromised lungs. In the last few days we told our Dad many times that we love him, as we had in the weeks before, and the months before, and the years before. And we know, without a doubt, that he loved us too. We are lucky in that.
David Gitlitz was a learned man of many talents, with a true and inquisitive interest in the world and the people around him. He was a community connector, a scholar and administrator, a wit, a loving father and friend, a teacher, an explorer and traveler, an avid birder, a fine cook, a generous host, a mentor, a photographer, and a lover of the arts. To our knowledge he was never bored. No matter where he was, or who he was with, there was always the delight of something new to learn.
As one of his friends so aptly put it, "May he rest in joy and adventuresome discoveries because to rest in peace would be boring for David!"
We'll miss you always, Dad. And we'll keep on living in this interesting world with curiosity, integrity, and delight. Thanks for being such a great life model, companion, father, and friend. Buen viaje.
Deborah and Abby
One way Dad’s legacy will continue is with our support of several local projects close to his heart. If you would like to make a gift in David's memory, here are three organizations to which he was committed: Libros Para Pueblos; La Mesita ecological reserve; and the bird guide training program in which he was involved, Los Kiskadees.
Libros Para Pueblos (LPP)
Libros Para Pueblos is an organization that builds long-term, supportive relationships with small libraries located in economically and socially disadvantaged regions of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. LPP’s objective is “to develop lifelong readers and learners by providing books and effective reading programs that inspire and motivate children and adults in underserved communities.” Our family has formed a sponsor relationship with a school/community library in a town not far from our Oaxaca home.
You can take a virtual LPP tour here.
How to donate to LPP in David’s name:
If you’d like to donate to Libros Para Pueblos in Dad’s name, please take these two steps:
Visit LPP’s Donations page (https://librosparapueblos.org/index.php/donate/) where you’ll see a photo of David himself! and can donate by PayPal or check.
So that LPP may track and acknowledge in their Annual Report any memorial gifts, please also contact the Executive Director, José Luis Zárate, at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know that the donation is a gift in David Gitlitz's honor.
La Mesita is an ecological reserve in the foothills above our pueblo of Santa Cruz Etla, Oaxaca, where Dad served as a docent, mentor, resource and advocate. The reserve belongs to the San Pablo/Santa Cruz Etla communities as a whole (under the jurisdiction of their Commission on Communal Resources) and is dedicated to conservation, research, and environmental education. The site includes a sculpture garden, a native plant nursery, a butterfly enclosure, demonstrations of water filtration, architecture projects, view points, hiking trails, and regular guided visits (in non-pandemic years) for groups including many school children.
You can read more about Dad’s early impressions of La Mesita from this 2016 post on his blog. (And to see more photos of La Mesita and the forest around it, have a look at the San Pablo Etla ecotourism Facebook page.) In the last four years Dad became increasingly involved with La Mesita, especially its educational aspect. He was committed to helping foster and support the reserve’s development as an ecotourism destination with continuing economic, environmental and cultural benefit to the community.
To learn how you can donate to La Mesita through the David Gitlitz Memorial Fund, please continue reading below.
In recent months (in the roll-out of a scheme that had long been percolating) Dad was serving as teacher and mentor to an aspiring group of bird guides. A delighted and dedicated birder himself, Dad took a walk and an avian census in the neighboring streets and fields every morning, reporting it to Cornell’s citizen science program via eBird. He kept a stash of good binoculars on hand and, as you may have experienced yourself, took all his willing visitors out walking to relish the valley views and watch for bridled sparrows, caracaras, elegant euphonias, and any of our other scores of interesting bird neighbors.
Dad saw the terrific potential for birding ecotourism in our bird-rich valley, and was working with La Mesita administrators, local officials, community members, and interested expats to secure government grants, recruit and train bird guides, and otherwise help lay the groundwork for this part of the developing local ecotourism.
Dad’s group of trainee birders include a vet, a talented young painter, and a pair of local brothers with a clear aptitude, all of whom met with him at 7:00 a.m. several days a week to develop birding vocabulary in Spanish and English, hike the area hills, and begin learning the habits and habitats of birds. The group formed a bond and had just named themselves Los Kiskadees (a large flycatcher known for its call in Spanish as a “bien te veo!” [“good to see you!”]), and were enthusiastically designing their logo when Dad became ill.
How to donate to La Mesita and to Los Kiskadees:
The David Gitlitz Memorial Fund, via Friends of Forests and Farms
Both La Mesita and the birding group Los Kiskadees may be supported through donations to Friends of Forests and Farms (FFF). FFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation registered in Massachusetts, and was set up in 2008 by good friends of ours to facilitate tax deductible donations primarily in support of the conservation and development efforts of the communities of San Pablo and Santa Cruz Etla. FFF is able to channel donated funds to various community needs and visions that would not otherwise be funded. The FFF Board covers all administrative costs, so 100% of any donations goes to benefit the community.
FFF has gladly agreed to serve as the receiving and administering vehicle for the David Gitlitz Memorial Fund, which will be used to support the educational efforts in which he was involved at La Mesita, and the continuing development of the bird guide program.
Your tax-deductible donations to the David Gitlitz Memorial Fund at FFF can be made online on the FFF website (www.friendsofforestsandfarms.org) via the PayPal donate button;
or, mailed to:
Friends of Forests and Farms
88 Wharf Street, Unit 604
Milton, MA 02186
So many folks have reached out to us to share your respect and love for Dad; your sorrow at his passing; and your stories with us. (We invite you to continue sharing with us and each other on his memory site, https://memories.lifeweb360.com/david-gitlitz.)
It is a wonder and a joy to us how many roads crossed with Dad's, and how many people were changed thereby. We invite you to keep fomenting wonder, joy, and change in his name -- by contributing to one of these projects in which he was involved, or by going out and encouraging curiosity and engagement in whatever ways are meaningful to you! He’d be delighted, either way.
Deborah and Abby