HOWARD, Dr David Leslie
17/03/1966 - 29/01/2008
17/03/1966 - 29/01/2008
It was St Patrick’s Day and a few short weeks after decimal currency was introduced into Australia. His name means ‘beloved’ and he was named after a family friend who his mother grew up with.
David was the only son of Les and Pam Howard and a brother Jacqui, Janine and Carol. His family we were always proud of him for his achievements and more notably for his academic achievements.
At a young age David showed signs of an ability to achieve at a high academic standard. On his very first day at kindy David was quoted as saying “I don’t know why my mummy sends me to kindy. I can cut and paste pictures at home”.
During his early school days, he was a quiet youngster who enjoyed reading, pulling things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together...sometimes with spare parts left over!
His early childhood he spent a lot of time in the shed with his dad Les. making model aeroplanes and boats out of baluster wood, putting together and painting plastic models, or playing with model trains and setting up train tracks and paper mache landscapes.
He enjoyed watching Doctor Who (sometimes from a safe vantage point behind the lounge!) and other Science Fiction programs like Lost in Space, Blake Seven, Star Trek and Red Dwarf.
He played cowboys and Indians with his sisters and other neighbourhood kids, climbed trees and collected small animals such a caterpillars and locusts. He enjoyed playing battleships and board games such as monopoly- at David’s suggestion they often played the game backwards, so the winner of the game was the person who lost all their properties and money and was declared bankrupt. David and his sisters also enjoyed playing spaceships, creating adventures on the swings in the backyard, playing French cricket and British Bull Dogs.
To his sisters Jacqui, Janine and Carol he was the golden boy to his parents, a fun loving brother and his dad’s little mate.
David’s Year 12 High School results earned him a Scholarship and entry into a degree course at Adelaide University. This resulted in him leaving home and moving from Darwin to Adelaide away from his family and high school friends. In the early days of his time at Uni he boarded at St Ann’s Residential College at North Adelaide where his claim to fame was his Mothers fruit cakes posted down from Darwin and the habit of kidnapping the teddy bears of some of his fellow female boarders and ‘drop kicking’ them down the corridor. David talked fondly of his time at Uni.
In his spare time whilst living in Adelaide David enjoyed bushwalking. It was through people he met a bushwalking club that he met Roopa, the mother of his two boys.
David completed his undergraduate degree with first class honours.
Just prior to the birth of his first-born son Aidan he achieved a PhD in Applied Mathematics. He dedicated his thesis to his parents, to his wife Roopa and to his unborn child.
Bill Moran, one of David’s PhD supervisors sent the following message to David’s family after his death in 2008.
“I was David's PhD supervisor at Adelaide and at Flinders - though that was shared with Gary Glonek towards the end of the PhD.
"David had quite a profound influence on me. We learned a lot of mathematics/science together - especially during the early years in Adelaide Uni. He probably taught me as much Physics as I taught him Mathematics, and he was instrumental in getting me to think about quite different research problems than I had previously.
He was always a good-humoured individual in those days, and full of ideas and new possible directions for our research. I used to get great pleasure out of our regular research sessions.
He did his PhD while he was still employed by DSTO and had constant battles with the bureaucracy there about his PhD candidature. He took pleasure in taking on the bureaucrats, and in gently breaking their rules when he regarded them a stupid. One of his statements of that era and those situations has stayed with me - I still use it but I got it from him: "It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission!".
I am tremendously saddened that the world has lost this still young man, whom I will always remember as a witty, intelligent, cheerful, and amiable soul.” - Bill Moran
Some years after completing his PhD, David and Roopa were blessed with a second son Rohan.
Being a father was David’s proudest achievement. Time with his boys was precious to him. He enjoyed taking them to the movies, making models with them, playing frisby, going for drives or going on walks. Aidan and Rohan would often talk about the visits with their dad where they enjoyed ‘Movie Marathons’- staying up to watch all of the Star Wars series, Pirates of the Caribbean. David was often the first to fall asleep and not see the end of the movies. The boys loved the hot dogs David sometimes made them for lunch- even the ones that burst in the boiling pot tasted great!
David returned to Adelaide to visit the boys whenever he could. Both the boys and David would stay with his sister Carol.
The decision to move to Sydney was not an easy one for David. He claimed he did it because he believed that employment opportunities would be greater thereby giving him the ability to provide for his sons and for their future education. It wasn’t until recently that David started talking about moving back to Adelaide to be closer to his boys. Aidan and Rohan were the centre of David’s life. They were his world. Being able to spend time with them and to be able to provide for them outweighed all else in David’s life.
David was a high achiever. He was always looking for new challenges in his employment. He liked to succeed and when his mind was set to do something he would rarely back down.
David’s work colleagues have the following to say about David:
“In speaking with many of David's associates outside of Integral over the past day, it has only confirmed how much he was respected in the wider industry. Many people commented on his professionalism, intelligence and dry wit. Within Integral, it was apparent to all who knew David that he loved his little boys dearly - I remember how happy he was following his visits to Adelaide.” - Denise
"Everyone would agree that David was a brilliant mathematician/statistician. He would often amaze me with his complex understanding of sophisticated statistical theories & impressive computing modelling. We both had a good laugh one day when David told me that in counting boxes of brochures for the Blacktown Solar City Launch, he had miscounted - it just highlights that even a mathematical genius is a mere human being after all :)"- Robert
"A group of us went out to dinner followed by a few drinks. People dropped off through the night until all that was left at the end was David, me and a chap from another company in the industry who was essentially David's equivalent. To cut a long story short we ended up going back to our colleague’s room, drinking the minibar dry and essentially drinking the chap under the table and getting all the dirt on one of their projects.....I think the thing that David liked best about the conference wasn't the presentations or the dinner or drinks but the fact that we got the real dirt on their project (confirming a number of David's suspicions about the project!!!)" - Stephen
David has a dry sense of humour as illustrated in his email to his friend Fiona in early 2006. As a side note - David always jokingly claimed that his paternal grandmother taught him how to swear!
“I doubt I'd ever agree there is one underlying universal "secret" to life.
You see I never have, and probably never will, believe in fate. It seems to me that the Universe, which is so incredibly vast, is basically completely indifferent to us.
We occupy such a tiny, tiny part that how could it be otherwise? That's not to say we aren't wondrous creatures, being conscious and all and able to contemplate such questions beyond mere survival. It's simply a question of scale.
My philosophy, such as it is, is that life throws up opportunities to each of us, regularly but completely randomly. You either have the wit and the means to take hold of these opportunities and do something with them or you don't. Even grabbing hold of an opportunity isn't enough to guarantee success every time because we're fallible creatures and often we fail and/or make mistakes.
The other thing life throws up regularly, and completely at random, is shit sandwiches. Sometimes it's possible to avoid these if we see them in time. But unfortunately, there are times when even the best of us must eat shit! :
.... So just know that my understanding of life suits me and gives me a working model for dealing with things.” David 2006
Sadly, at the age of 41, David took his own life on 29 January 2008 at Bradley Head. Mosman. New South Wales.