David M. Thorndike

October 28, 1939June 20, 2018
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David M. Thorndike, age 78 passed away on Wednesday June 20, 2018. David was born October 28, 1939 in Fremont, Nebraska to Harley and Ruby Thorndike.

David is survived by his loving companion of over 30 years; Claudia Head, nieces, nephews other relatives and friends.

A celebration of life for David will be held Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 10:00 AM at Kahler Dolce Mortuary, 441 North Washington, Papi, Nebraska.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Thorndike family.

Memorials may be made to The American Cancer Society in memory David Thorndike.


  • Celebration of Life Thursday, June 28, 2018

David M. Thorndike

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Paul Reed

July 9, 2018

From Claudia:

Thank you to those who sent flowers to the service. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, friendships, and support. It has meant the world.

Michael Hauschild

June 27, 2018

Dave was probably one of the finest “trap” shotgunners the state has ever seen. To him this sport was a not only a hobby but a craft. He approached launching one and an eighth ounce of lead spheres at 1200 feet per second exactly as he did all things academic, spatial extent and temporal vector – “field” geography at its finest.
To all of you not familiar with the Dave’s game, a small disk of clay it thrown from a catapult starting at 16 yards in front of the shooter at a random angle; it can go right, left, or straight it leaves the catapult at sixty miles per hour. You have less than a second to calculate the vector, figure the drop of the shot cloud, adjust the point of aim to place the shot pattern and that small rapidly disappearing disk in the same intersecting space. Twenty-five hits in a row is rare, a hundred in a row is virtually unheard of; ponder this, Dave often went four or five hundred in a row without a miss.
Dave shot like he lectured, you were going to get his entire focus, your tuition’s money’s worth. Those hundreds of fifty-minute segments of Thorndike that I received over the course of my undergrad and masters classes studies hardly ever recorded a miss. I can still hear his voice as I type this, if you look in the dictionary under masculine there will be a picture of Dave. That same picture will be shown with the term “sportsman,” and YouTube surely has him giving a lecture on the proper method to put a razor edge on a filet knife.
Kind of a cliché but when they made Dave, they broke the mould. I only hope that when he gets to the pearly gates there are not statues of whitetail deer beside the golden steps.

Phil Reeder

June 27, 2018

I met Dave in 1994 when I came to UNO to be a professor. We became great friends because we shared our love of the outdoors and drinking beer. I often took my soils class to Dave’s place in Springfield to dig and look at the soils. He knew every corner of Sarpy county and we spent many a weekend driving around looking for research projects for the students and we usually ended up at what he called Stu’s place, for a few beers. I think the real name was the Do Drop Inn. I’ll never forget the story that our colleague at UNO Jeff Peake tells about Dave’s carp raking adventure. Jeff and Dave were out and about down by the Platte River and they noticed that a huge group of carp were gathered by the outflow from a sewage pond. Dave wanted to collect as many as he could for the smoker. He always vowed that smoked carp were good. Not wanting to wade down into the nasty water to grab the fish, he used some good old red neck inginuity and got a rake from the back of his truck and started racking the fish out of the stream. Once he had a good pile he threw them in the back of the truck and was off to the smoker. I don’t think I ate any so I can’t say if they were good or not. Dave, Claudia and me would spend hours in his kitchen after one of our adventures drinking Busch Light and telling stories. I have so many fond memories of Dave. I left UNO in 2001 and kept in touch with Dave a bit, but we eventually lost touch in recent years. I was just thinking about him the last few weeks and thought I would look him up when I have a planned visit to Omaha in November. I missed my chance unfortunately. I will never forget Dave for his wry sence of humor, his good nature, and his dedication to teaching the students. Of all the collegues I have had over the years at many academic institutions, I can say that I never spent more time shooting the breeze, telling stories and laughing than I did with Dave Thorndike. He was a great guy that will be missed.