Honoring the Life of David Essex
David L. Essex of Gilbert, Arizona, was called home by his Lord, Jesus, on October 1
, 2023, at the age of 76. He was born January 21
, 1947, to Lester and Janice Essex in Beach Grove, Indiana. His passing was preceded by his daughter, Kristen Essex, and his sister, Janis Essex.
An amazing example of Christ-like love and devotion as a husband, father, and grandfather (“Papa”), David is survived by his wife and soulmate of 36 years, Jeannine; son, Matthew; daughter-in-law, Shannon; grandchildren, Hannah, Hartlee, and Dylan; and his dog, Penny.
When David was little, his parents decided to relocate from their farm in Indiana to the beaches of Southern California. While he had fond memories of his farm life as a young boy, when he saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time, he quickly became a
. As he grew up, the ocean became his sanctuary. He learned to surf and spent countless hours at the beach throughout his childhood and teen years. His parents had little means, but he never felt he lacked anything with such a vast source of God’s power available to him 24/7.
Upon graduating from Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, California, David joined the Air Force to serve his country, which took him across the country to the Atlantic coast of South Carolina. While he was stationed there, he married his high school sweetheart, and they had their first of two children, Kristen.
Following an honorable discharge from the Air Force, David moved his family back to California for a few years, then to the budding city of Tempe, Arizona, in 1971. It was there he would put down roots. In need of gainful employment, he used his natural charm and sincere demeanor to pursue a career in the automotive industry. He worked for, learned from, and forged friendships with several well-respected dealership owners before starting his own company, Essex-Himes Leasing & Sales.
Despite living in the desert for most of the rest of his life, David never lost his passion for the ocean and remained a beach boy at heart. He traded in his surfboard for scuba gear and discovered a whole new world of wonder deep in the sea, below the waves. As a young business owner, he wore suits and ties, but as soon as he could get away with it, he replaced those formalities with his Ocean Pacific (OP) shorts and Hawaiian shirts…and that’s how he would want to be remembered!
Dave, as he was known by most of his customers, who were also his friends and he treated like family, was beloved by many for his unique combination of heart, honor, humility, and humor. He was authentically generous, giving all he had, all the time, willingly, without hesitation or concern for himself. He always trusted that God would provide.
As he grew older, his trust in God grew stronger and became absolute. He learned to let go of the things of this world and found peace in Jesus alone. In turn, Jesus showed him how to die to himself and love others unconditionally — a gift he also shared generously with others. Not just with family and friends but also with complete strangers, including all of the medical personnel he encountered in his last two weeks on this earth, under the most dire of circumstances.
Some believe that the mark of a man is left from how he lived. Others believe it is how a man dies that matters the most. Dave was one of the few who did both extraordinarily well. We love you, and we all miss you so much. Thank you for showing us the way; we will do our best to live up to your example until we see you again.
Memorial Service Information:
Wednesday, October 11
, 2023 at 11 a.m., reception to follow
Redemption Church, Gilbert
1820 W Elliot Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85233
Services will be held in the building closest to the main entrance (SE corner of the campus)
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Dave’s honor to either
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital