Cover photo for David S. Wilbourn's Obituary
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1934 David Wilbourn 2023

David S. Wilbourn

May 11, 1934 — September 14, 2023


Mr. David S. Wilbourn, of Newton, died Thursday, September 14, 2023 at his home. He was 89.

David was born in Providence, Rhode Island on May 11, 1934, the son of the late Henry C. and Florence (Straight) Wilbourn.

His entrepreneurial talent began at a young age; as a young boy David started his first business making plaster figurines of college mascots, Disney characters, and nativity scenes. Family and friends were among his most loyal buyers and he was delighted years later to have inherited some of his creations back.

As an only child, the love and attention he received from his parents and extended relatives were extremely influential in his upbringing. For a time during the Great Depression, married women were not allowed to hold a teaching job, so his mother stayed home to teach him. When he was ready to enter school he was so advanced he was invited to join the second graders.  In the summertime his family lived in their beach house on Point Judith Pond where he made countless happy memories. He enjoyed all the watersports including boating and sailing . . . his keen sense of adventure fostered in childhood carried him all the way through to his final days.

A graduate of Providence’s renowned Classical High School in 1951 he continued his studies at M.I.T. where he was a member of the school’s Army ROTC program. He earned his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering and later returned to M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management where he earned his M.B.A. in 1970.

Commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Army Chemical Corps, he was stationed for a time in Alabama where he served alongside the 21st Chemical Decontamination Company where he was a company commander. In his free time he took flying lessons at the local municipal airport, earning his pilot’s license and becoming a proud co-owner of a 1938 Arenac Chief— a single engine, 2 passenger airplane. He loved taking short trips through the air looking at the beauty of the landscape below.

Upon his discharge he went to New York City where he met the love of his life, Joyce Dornan in 1964. From their first date on Valentine’s Day they knew they had met their match. They married in June, 1966 by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City and enjoyed 57 wonderful years of marriage. 

They came to Unitarian Universalism as they sought a congregation that would be a good “fit” for them both. At First Parish in Waltham the Wilbourns participated in many parts of congregational life, hosting circle suppers, welcoming dinners for new ministers, singing in the choir, as well as traveling with church friends. David soon became Treasurer of the congregation and then began service as one of the Trustees of the congregation's Permanent (Endowment) Funds - a position he held for four decades. Trustee Joel Weddig and his wife Susan remember David as much beloved, “calm, always alert to everything, and easy to talk with”;  Trustee Barry Steams, who introduced the David Wibourn Legacy Fund to First Parish in June, 2023, valued David's insight and loving stewardship of the congregation's assets.

He had worked at Barlow Co. in Ossining, New York before beginning his career at Keltron Corp., a security products company located in the former Waltham Watch Factory building. He retired as their Chief Executive Officer after more than 40 years of service. 

The Wilbourns enjoyed many trips all over the world, including Africa, Israel, Canada, and France, to name a few. He was proud to say he had been to all 50 states and loved taking his family on trips near and far. Many concerts and shows were enjoyed over the years, including attending a holiday show as a family every Christmas season. David enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, reading the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal from cover to cover daily, watching football with his daughter Melissa, and assisting his granddaughter Alexis with math homework. In his younger years, David also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing. Both David and Joyce enjoyed the community they found at Cabot Park Village, where he was treasurer of the residents' association.

In addition to his wife, Joyce (Dornan) Wilbourn, of Newton; he leaves his children, Melissa I. Cronin (late Colin) of Centerville, and Erick D. Wilbourn, of Waltham; his grandchildren, Alexis and Cameron Cronin; and two great-grandchildren, Koda and Denali Cronin.

Family and friends will honor and remember David's life by gathering for calling hours in The Joyce Funeral Home, 245 Main Street (Rte. 20), Waltham, on Monday, September 18th from 4 to 7 p.m. A memorial service will take place in First Parish Church, 50 Church Street, Waltham, on Friday, October 6th at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to the David Wilbourn Fund at First Parish Church, 50 Church Street, Waltham, 02452.

Service Schedule

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Monday, September 18, 2023

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Memorial Service

Friday, October 6, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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