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Memorials: Monterey Peninsula Monthly Meeting

David Tappan

Date of birth

June 12, 1945

Date of death

June 24, 2023


Monterey Peninsula Monthly Meeting

Memorial minute

Dr. David Tappan born June 12, 1945, in Pasadena, California, has passed away, in Monterey, CA, on June 24th, 2023. He was 78. Dave attended Stanford, then UCSF Medical School, and practiced as a pediatrician in Pasadena for 28 years. He had a gift for connecting with children and was beloved by his patients and their parents.

Raised Presbyterian, Dave met Quaker Jan Vogel while folk dancing at The Museum in Pasadena, and they married in 1970 at Orange Grove Friends Meeting, where he became a longtime active member. They had three children and were married for 31 years.

At the age of 57, Dave moved to Pebble Beach with his high school sweetheart, Claudia Conner, joined a pediatric practice there and became a member of Monterey Peninsula Friends Meeting. He retired in 2012 and spent his free time learning, exploring nature, traveling the world, playing music, enjoying good food, and spending time with his family.

An eternal scholar, Dave was a kind, brilliant, and fascinating man with many skills and interests. Languages were a particular passion for him; he studied dozens of them, and he sought out opportunities to speak and practice them whenever he could. A special fascination was Native American languages, especially from tribal areas near where he resided. He studied and made recordings of many of them, and was particularly proud to have taken part in helping bring a traditional Luiseño (Payómkowishum) song, taught to him by an elderly tribe member, back into prominence. For many years, he donated his services one day a week to Morongo Indian Reservation’s pediatric clinic, and loved putting his language study into practice there.

He was fascinated by indigenous cultures of the world, and especially loved learning their music. China was a particular obsession from his early years, as his grandfather had been a missionary there and his father was born there. He was a student of the Stanford in Germany program and later volunteered for two months at a clinic in Kenya, and he traveled the world whenever he got the opportunity. He performed in Scottish, Tahitian, Bulgarian, and mariachi music groups, and was a proud member of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz. He taught his daughters Scots Gaelic songs and accompanied them in performance at Highland Games and Scottish events. His collection of folk instruments, upon which he was constantly practicing, included whistles, reeds, percussion, and plucked and bowed string instruments from all over the world.

His interest in nature led him to volunteer as a docent at Eaton Canyon Nature Center and Point Lobos State Park, and as a board member of the Del Monte Forest Conservancy. He took his children and grandchildren on camping trips and loved teaching them the names of native plants, animals, and constellations. Hiking and exploring around nature preserves, especially in Monterey, Alaska, and Hawaii (where he briefly served as a locum tenens doctor) was one of his favorite pleasures.

After several years of declining health, he died peacefully surrounded by his loving children at the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, where he himself had helped so many patients.

His life was defined by curiosity, enthusiasm, compassion, service, and a deep and abiding love: for his family, for his fellow man, and for the beautiful world we live in. He exemplified the qualities of Friends and will continue to be an inspiration to everyone who knew him.

He is survived by his partner, Claudia Conner, his former wife, Jan Tappan, his three children Stacey Tappan (David Fry), Christina Forst (Scott Forst), and Dan Tappan; his stepchildren Heather Oliver (Michael Oliver), Russel Wicka (Susan Oehlers), and Karl Wicka (Heidi Wicka); grandchildren and step-grandchildren Sebastian Forst, Juliet and David Oliver, and Kurtis and Clayton Wicka, siblings Janet Dryden (Robert Dryden), Diane Easton (Rich Easton), Connie Clancy (Ed Clancy) and Steve Tappan (Cathy Tappan), and nine nieces and nephews.

The family will communicate memorial service plans once they are finalized. Those wishing to express condolences are encouraged to make a donation in his name to one of his favorite charities: Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, California Native Plant Society, ACLU, Sierra Club, and Doctors Without Borders.