David Lee Gaillard, 44, a devoted father, husband and committed environmentalist, died in an avalanche near Yellowstone National Park on December 31, 2011, while backcountry skiing with his wife Kerry.
David was born on May 5, 1967, in Greenwich, Connecticut to Katharine and William Gail-lard, the third of four boys in his family. His love for the outdoors grew through summers backpacking in the Adirondacks of upper New York State, where as a teen he summited all 46 peaks over 4,000‟. He was equally at home on the water and taught small boat sailing in Long Island Sound. An avid windsurfer, he delighted when strong winds swept the Sound.
After graduating from Williams College in 1989 with a degree in English, he headed west, settling in Bozeman MT after a short stint in Crested Butte CO. In Bozeman he became active in regional environmental issues, first working to protect grizzly bears with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He returned east to earn his Masters in Environmental Stud-ies at Yale School of Forestry in 1997 before heading back to Bozeman. Throughout the rest of his life, the northern Rockies were David‟s passion and his home.
In late 1997 David joined Predator Conservation Alliance (now Keystone Conservation), first as program administrator and later as interim director. Beginning in 2007 he worked at Defenders of Wildlife as their Northern Rockies Represen-tative. Throughout his career David‟s passionwas focused on threatened and endangered species, which he recognized as key indicators of ecosystem health. Realizing that the more prominent grizzlies and wolves of Greater Yellowstone already had an active human voice, he dedicated his work and considerable energy and talent to protecting lesser-known predators including the wolverine, Canada lynx, fisher, and pine marten.
In 1996 David married Marianne Filloux, and their daughter Marguerite was born in 2000. On vacations to southern California David developed a love for surfing, which culminated in an extended family camping trip down the Baja penin-sula. Over the course of that three-month trip David was able to surf almost every day, often on pristine beaches. After his first marriage ended in divorce, David met and subsequently married Kerry Corcoran in 2010 and welcomed her chil-dren Sam and Silver into his life with Marguerite.
David understood better than most the need to bring together diverse and often conflicting points of view on divisive en-vironmental topics, such as the re-introduction of wolves into the Yellowstone ecosystem. He spent much of his time in local communities, giving presentations about environmental issues and enlisting support from ordinary citizens. Fre-quently, his listeners had strongly different points of view but David had the courage to stand in front of them in open dialog, and his calm manner, careful listening and strong intellect helped bridge gaps in understanding.
Throughout his life David loved nothing better than to traverse the wild country of the Northern Rockies, whether on skis, bike, canoe or foot, exploring new drainages, climbing new peaks, and relishing the wide open spaces. He was equally capable with home remodeling projects and being a part of the community. David served on the board of directors of Wild Things Unlimited and was active with the Craighead Institute. He was an active member of the Bozeman commu-nity, serving as co-President of the Irving School parent council, tutoring elementary school math and leading field trips.
David inspired his family and friends with his gentle, generous and enthusiastic approach to life. David‟s firebrand-colored hair belied his calm spirit. His sense of playfulness and impish fun allowed him to pull off wearing a pink and white striped shirt, eye-rolling puns, and many a well-loved caper. He was truly a special and wonderful young man, and will be deeply missed.
David is survived by his daughter Marguerite (11); his wife Kerry and her children Sam Brelsford (17) and Silver Brels-ford (15); parents Katharine and William Gaillard; brothers Andrew, Thomas and Jeffrey; and Marguerite‟s mother Marianne Filloux.
Family and friends will gather at Springhill Pavilion on Friday, January 6th at 2:00 pm to remember David. The service will be outdoors on packed snow, so guests are asked to dress accordingly. An indoor reception will follow the service.
The family requests that donations in lieu of flowers be made online atwww.defenders.org/dgmemorial, or by check to Defenders of Wildlife, P.O. Box 1336, Bozeman MT 59771. Donations should reference “In Memory of David L. Gail-lard‟; all contributions received will be directed by Defenders of Wildlife to Wild Things Unlimited and other local programs close to David‟s heart. Please share memories, celebrations and condolences via FaceBook on a tribute page titled “Remembering Dave Gaillard”.