David D. Sillers (Jan. 12, 1949 – Apr. 7, 2009) worked in Production Control on the 3rd deck of Bldg 400.
David D. Sillers died peacefully on April 7, 2009 in Alameda’s Bay View Nursing & Rehab Center. Dave was born on January 12, 1949 and was a long-time resident of Alameda, graduating from Alameda High School in 1967.
At AHS Dave will be remembered as the only student who received a spontaneous burst of applause at graduation, starting with the 471 graduates, and welling up until everyone in the auditorium was clapping and cheering. It was a sincere tribute by his fellow graduates to a student for an achievement that did not appear on the printed listing of scholastic accomplishments. It was the student recognition — unrehearsed and unorganized — of something they thought was pretty wonderful. The applause kept growing as Dave accepted his diploma. The hand clapping continued as he climbed down the stairs from the stage, and it did not stop until Dave walked up the aisle and returned to his seat. The story behind the student admiration of Dave began three years earlier in 1964 when, as a popular freshman athlete, he was fighting for his life after an accident that left him severely paralyzed. Determined to let nothing stop him, he applied himself to a home study program outlined by his teachers. Eventually he was able to use a wheel chair. Then, he was able to walk — very slowly at first, and then with a limp. Gradually he learned to re-use his arms and hands and eventually he began to attend classes on a part-time basis and then finally after more than a year, he became a regular student at AHS once again.
So, when he received his diploma that graduation night 43 years ago, it was like running a kick-off back for the winning touchdown, hitting a grand slam home run in the final inning, or scoring the winning basket in the sudden-death overtime. The heart-warming hand clapping of his 471 fellow students, their families and friends meant much more than the wild cheering of the biggest rooting section. Dave, who might have been one of Alameda High’s great athletes if things had been different, proved he already had what high school sports are supposed to teach – courage, determination, and strength.
The things he learned at AHS followed Dave through the rest of his life in Alameda. Dave continued to grow and be involved in things beyond just himself. Dave went to San Francisco State University, graduating with a bachelor’s of arts degree in 1974. Soon after college Dave joined and then became an officer of the Alameda JayCee’s where he met some of his life long friends. He was appointed as a commissioner for the Alameda Parks & Recreation District serving for many years. Dave was well known and did outstanding service work for Alameda and as a result was selected as one of the “Outstanding Young Men of America.” For the past six years Dave has been living in Alameda’s Bay View Nursing & Rehab Center, since in 2002, he was hit by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk near his home. This second accident left Dave completely bed-bound as he was nearly completely paralyzed except for his head and right arm.
Dave’s mother and father were an incredible support to him during his entire lifetime. They were an integral part of Dave’s adult life as he was included in all their activities, parties and trips. However, his mother, Wilhelmine Sillers, passed away two years ago and his father, CDR. Colin B. Sillers, USN (ret’d), passed away 4 months ago. Dave greatly missed both his parents after their passing, especially his Dad as he was the person who visited Dave every single day while he lived at Bay View Nursing & Rehab Center. Dave is survived by his brother, Bruce (Coby) Sillers, Jr. of Atlanta, GA, his nephew, Doug Sillers of Santa Barbara, CA and his niece, Katy Sillers Krippaehne of Tacoma, WA.