David Edward Oaksmith, 83, passed away at his home in Southern Shores on November 7.
Dave — known affectionately as “surfer Dave” by a generation of students, Cdr. Oaksmith, or Mr. Chairman for his work with the Dare County Board of Education – was born on April 5, 1932, in Bergen County, New Jersey. He is preceded in death by his parents, Marguerite Patricia Oaksmith, and David Edward Oaksmith, Sr. Dave is survived by his wife of 32 years, Judy Oaksmith; his sister Patricia Hedley and her husband, Pete, of San Diego, CA; Judy’s sons David Kemper and his wife Angela of Asheville, NC, and Daniel Kemper and his wife Sara of Lodi, CA; and Dave’s daughters, Laura Oaksmith and her husband Cecil Hooker of New York City, Colleen Oaksmith of Nags Head, Kerry Oaksmith-Sanders and her husband Bob Sanders of Nags Head; Maria Oaksmith of Manteo; and Megan Oaksmith and her husband Amando Bravo of Kill Devil Hills.
Their 11 grandchildren include Erin Kokdil, Sean Kokdil, Devin Sanders, Bryce Sanders, David Walker Giles, Collin Kemper, Paige Kemper, Edward Bravo, Patrick Bravo, Benaiah Kemper and Maggie Kemper.
After a 20-year career as a Naval Officer, earning distinction as the youngest commander of a destroyer, Dave began his second career in education in Dare County, first as a substitute teacher, then a math teacher, and later as the Chairman of the Dare County Board of Education. His passionate commitment to ensuring a top-tier public school education for Dare County students generated many milestones, including the construction of four new schools, and the renovation of every school across the County. He was instrumental in launching the Dare County Education Foundation to provide affordable housing for teachers, and with introducing SAT prep courses. Dave also fought to implement and sustain the “More At Four” initiative, ensuring that at-risk 4-year-olds would succeed when they entered school. His advocacy for education was unwavering, and fierce.
While his career accomplishments are extraordinary, Dave will be remembered by many as a caring, principled man who respected everyone, a friend who would support you in your darkest hour, someone who made everyone he encountered feel valued. He did not care about amassing wealth, fame or social status – his aspiration was to be a good person.
Dave had a great sense of humor. He loved Jimmy Buffett, good food, Robert De Niro’s performance in Raging Bull, the ocean, his wife and family, the country he served, tennis, baseball, Christmas, the 4th of July, and listening to The Jersey Boys soundtrack while driving in his convertible VW bug.
Dave respected Robert Kennedy for his courage in battling segregationists. He did not like the New York Yankees. Dave was profoundly grateful to, and humbled by, the friendships he created throughout this community. He will be remembered and missed by so many. By any measure — his was a life well lived, and we salute the passing of a prince, a gentleman, a loyal friend, a loving husband, father and grandfather. And as he would say at the conclusion of a conversation…“okay then, carry on.”