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Friends of educator Dave Gettling remember him as a funny techie

by: Submitted photo, Dave Gettling, a longtime Beaverton educator, died last Monday of a brain aneurysm. Gettling served as the district’s first technology specialist.

Friends of longtime Beaverton educator and mentor Dave Gettling will long remember him as a caring individual with diverse interests and a great sense of humor.

Those closest to him also considered him a 'technology handyman' who would address their hardware, software or cyber woes without ever complaining.

Gettling died March 31 of a brain aneurysm at his Rock Creek home.

Gettling, 57, worked in the Beaverton School District from the 1970s through the late 1990s, teaching at Errol Hassell, Bethany and Elmonica elementary schools.

'Dave had a passion for life, living and people,' said Karen Nelson, a long-time friend, who taught with Gettling at both Bethany and Errol Hassell. 'Everyone who knew Dave is a better person for having known him. He touched our lives with compassion, care, love and humor.'

That sense of humor led the teacher, who at one point had a house-painting business, to paint a 'Happy Birthday' message in bright pink paint on the front of a friend's house, which later proved difficult to remove.

Nelson said Gettling served as the district's first technology specialist, later becoming a vice principal at Five Oaks Middle School.

After he left the Beaverton School District, Gettling served as principal of West Union Elementary School. He came out of semi-retirement to supervise student teachers at Pacific University and joined the Lewis and Clark College faculty where he taught technology and administrative classes. He also served on the Beaverton Education Foundation.

Joy Haack, Gettling's neighbor who worked with him when they both taught at Errol Hassell, recalled that students enjoyed Gettling's teaching style. Her son was in Gettling's fourth-grade class at Bethany Elementary School and she'll long remember the remarks he wrote on her son's report card: 'If you ever need to kick this kid outta the house - send him over to mine! I'd be happy to have him anytime. Have a fun summer, Jeff. You're a great kid and deserve an extra dessert for your top, top work this year.'

Haack said Gettling was a great organizer of events as well.

'He had so many diverse interests,' she said. 'He was able to gather people together in these diverse groups.'

Also, he had the ability to make everything a lot of fun, said Haack.

Both Nelson and Haack said that when they had computer questions or were thinking about purchasing an item involving technology, they always consulted Gettling first. Recently he taught an iPhoto class to a group of five or six friends. Never forgetting his teaching roots, he wrote at the top of the syllabus: 'Hands to yourself, feet on the floor and no whining.'

Kelly Kuntz, the Beaverton School District's administrator for instructional technology, recalled at Monday's School Board meeting that Gettling's focus was on the benefits of technology and not the hardware.

'Always investigating and learning, Dave saw computers as a powerful way to engage learners,' said Kuntz. 'He was never a techie focused on the next greatest piece of equipment; he always looked for what works best with students and secondly, how to empower teachers to enhance and improve their instruction.'

Gettling is survived by his wife, Jan, as well as a daughter, Erin, whom he once brought home from her station in the Peace Corp in Ukraine as a Christmas present for his wife, and a son, Neal, who recently graduated from Purdue University.

A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. on April 19 at Westview High School. Remembrance gifts can be made to the Dave Gettling Technology Fund at the Beaverton Education Foundation, 16550 S.W. Merlo Road, Beaverton 97006.