David M. Totman
Memorial services for David M. Totman will be held at Ertel Funeral Home on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. David died peacefully in his sleep on October 18 at 87. He is survived by his wife Mary, daughters Johanna, Robin and Michele, sons Peter and Schuyler, and 10 grandchildren.
Services will begin at 1 p.m., with sharing of stories beginning at 1:15. Come with a recollection. Comfortable attire is welcomed. Internment of ashes with military honors will follow the service in Lewis. All are welcome to this quiet event at Sunnyside Cemetery, located next to the Totman farm.
David impacted many in many ways over 30 his years as a science teacher at MCHS, until he retired in 1986.
“He was the reason I became a chemical engineer,” says Laurie Flanigan.
“I cannot express to you how much I learned from Mr. Totman,” recalls John Lyons. “Not much chemistry really, but a lot about life and dignity and being responsible for yourself. I count him among my few important mentors who helped shape me early on, and he did so with such firm and clear ways.”
“I remember one day in class we were going to ‘pull one over’ on him,” Jeri Bennett remembers. “We all hid in the office between the classrooms, and instead of getting a surprised look on his face, he calmly walked to his desk and began marking us all absent!”
David was also a longtime seasonal park ranger at Mesa Verde and Hovenweep, a ski patrolman at Ski Stoner, and a high school ski coach. He drove a school bus for many years, and the ski bus to Stoner on the weekends. “Fifty cents to ride the bus and a dollar and a quarter to ski,” Mary recalls.
Graduating high school in New York State in 1944, David headed to Fort Dix and Camp Wheeler for Army training, “classified as an Infantry trainee—exactly what I hoped for.” Deployed to Italy in time to see the enemy forces crumbling, David did not see combat: “My only claim to fame is that I was there and I was willing, and the cause was a worthy one.” Still, he nearly died while deployed after contracting spinal meningitis. His life was saved when he became the first person in Europe to receive a strange new drug called penicillin.
Mary and David married in 1954, after he taught her how to ski, and before he gave up on a ranching career, in part because her father offered him some advice: “You are no rancher.” After earning his MS degree at UNC in Greeley, they moved to Montezuma County in 1956, eventually buying a 40-acre farm in Lewis in 1967.
Superintendent Vince Lester had recruited David to MCHS, saying, “You ski. We have to have you.” David made good on the invitation, coaching the high school ski team with good success and great effect. “Coach Totman was a quiet, but strong leader that took this young 13-year-old farm boy from nothing to a National Jr. Nordic cross- country champion in four years,” recalls Steve Chappell, whom David coached from 1958 to 1962. “I will always be grateful to Dave for giving his own time and weekends to mold a young boy into a young man, who viewed life as a place to succeed.”