We were extremely sad to learn last week that a wonderful member of the SEFS family, Professor Emeritus David Briggs, passed away at his home on Saturday, July 26.
Briggs was born on July 3, 1943, in North Brookfield, Mass. He earned his bachelor’s at the University of Massachusetts, a master’s from Yale University, and his doctorate from the College of Forest Resources (CFR). He first joined CFR as a graduate student around 1968, but in the early 1970s he briefly left the university to work as an analyst for Washington Iron Works in Seattle. After returning and finishing his dissertation in 1980, Briggs joined the CFR faculty and taught operations research and forest products for more than three decades until his retirement in 2011.
In his many distinguished years with our school, he simultaneously served as director of the Stand Management Cooperative and the Precision Forestry Cooperative, and also directed the UW site of the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Forestry Systems. Briggs was respected as a great leader and collaborator, and he was appointed as the Corkery Chair in recognition of his scholarly and professional contributions. He mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students, as well as young professors, and was especially known for his enormous generosity and kindness. Even as his health started to slow him down, he continued participating in school affairs and kept an active research profile.
His decorated career as a professor is only part of what his many friends and colleagues remember so fondly. With a tremendous zeal for life and the outdoors, Briggs was an avid climber and mountaineer, and was famous for his storytelling—such as tales of climbing peaks, up and back, early in the morning before the rest of his party had even woken up. He loved traveling and had only recently returned from a trip with his wife Anne to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert. He also had an affinity for animals, at various times keeping llamas, chickens, geese, dogs, cats and a horse on his land.
Briggs will be sorely missed by his mother, Georgia Briggs, his wife, Anne Briggs, his son Jeremy Briggs, his stepdaughter Laura Shepard, many other family and friends, and the countless students and faculty he guided and influenced during his long career at the University of Washington.
A celebration of his life will be held at The University of Washington Club (4020 E. Steven Way) on Sunday, August, 17, from 4 to 7 p.m.; parking on Sundays is available in the Padelford Parking Garage. The family asks that remembrances may be donated to the American Alpine Club or Washington Trails Association.