Obituary: David Bruce Small

David Bruce Small passed away March 24, 2011 in Reno, NV after a long battle with lung disease. He held hands with his beloved wife Sandra and passed away knowing he was loved. He was born April 11, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan to Harold W. Small and Doris M. Small.

David was a brilliant man with a superior intellect, quick wit, compassion, and zest for life. He was a joy to be with, always upbeat in any situation, making you smile with his wonderful sense of humor. He accomplished many things during his lifetime. He was an artist, played the guitar, loved books, baseball and gardening. He was a gourmet cook and loved to prepare dinners for his family and friends.

He joined the Navy at age 20 as an enlisted man. He graduated first in his class. He was fearless and would tackle anything, so he applied to the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. Having only one semester of college he competed with men having degrees from many prestigious universities, and once more graduated first in his class.

Dave earned his Naval Aviator 'Wings of Gold' in 1963. He served in Viet Nam with his squadron VA-163 "The Saint's", aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. Flying the A-4 Skyhawk attack jet in Viet Nam, he flew 132 combat missions, returning many times with holes in his plane. He received many awards and commendations, among which were two Navy combat 'V' commendations, and 13 air medals.

He left the Navy and began college at the University of California, Berkley. It was a bad time for veterans there, but with his love for the Navy and courage, he proudly wore his flight jacket on campus. He received much abuse, but wore his jacket with pride anyway.

After completing law school he came to Nevada, and lived in Carson City continuously for 40 years.

He served Carson City as district attorney. He announced the Nevada Day Parade for many years, was a member of the Republican Central Committee, and served several years on the board of Carson Tahoe Hospital. He was a member of the Tailhook Association, and a lifetime member of VFW.

When his children were young he volunteered as chaperone for the Junior Ski program ,and was also involved with Boy Scouts, Indian Guides, Indian Princess', little league, and soccer. Dave loved football and was a high school football referee for over 20 years

He loved his children dearly and made many sacrifices for their benefit.

Dave was a true and loyal friend. He was the guy that would help when you called at 2AM, stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Dave met his wife through mutual friends. He always told her it was magic like in the movies. Love at first sight, and they were never apart from that moment on. Dave loved to travel with his wife in their RV. He loved maps and planning trips. They visited 40 States, enjoyed visiting numerous friends and escaping Nevada winters.

Dave was a very tender, loving husband, very supportive, attentive, thoughtful, and just all around wonderful. He spoiled Sandra terribly, in so many ways.

Sandra will miss all of the love notes he would tape to the coffee pot, his sense of humor, twinkling blue eyes, and his warm loving spirit.

Dave was a wonderful stepfather. He was always ready to help.

Dave was a proud grandfather. You would never know that the children were step-grandchildren. They call him Papa and love him dearly.

All during the 1990's you would find Dave pushing a stroller all over Carson showing off each new baby as they came along. He fed, burped, diapered, and rocked them to sleep. He worried over each cold, scraped knee, or stomach ache. He was devastated after learning that little Kiera had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

He was proud of each report card, school program, or sports accomplishment. He was proud and amazed at their speaking ability before a crowd at church while so young. No natural grandfather could have loved them more.

Dave has one natural grandson that he rarely got to see because he lives in Connecticut, but he loved him beyond words.

Dave had been ill and in pain for many years. He never complained and always kept his wonderful sense of humor right to the end. Bravery should be the B in his middle name.

Dave is predeceased by his parents Harold & Doris Small, his sister Barbara, paternal grandparents William & Jessie Small, maternal grandparents August & Alida Holmberg Johnson.

He is survived by his loving wife, friend, and companion of 21 years Sandra Shaw Small; his son, Navy Commander Jason E. Small (Megan) of Connecticut; daughter, Kerry L. Small of Reno, NV; his sister, Susan E. Durham (Dr. C.T.) of Asheville, NC; stepsons, Matthew Baker (Rachel) Carson City, Mark Baker (Elaine) Mt. Pleasant, TN; stepdaughter, Monica Baker (Dennie) Carson City; granddaughters, Ashlynd, Kiera, and Addisyn Baker; grandsons, Charlie Small, Conner Baker, and several nieces and nephews.

At Dave's request there will be no service. He preferred a party as a celebration of his life. Details will be announced at a later date.

In Dave's honor, please donate to the Wounded Warrior Project:, or The Tailhook Association Education Foundation:

We thought of you with love today. But that is nothing new. We thought about you yesterday. And days before that too. We think of you in silence. We often speak your name.

Now all we have is memories. And your picture in a frame. Your memory is our keepsake. With which we'll never part. God has you in his keeping. We have you in our heart.


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