David Russell Church
May 17, 1950 – January 26, 2024
“I loved practicing medicine.” For Dr. Church, being a “simple country doctor” was a true calling. He was devastated when he had to stop serving the Los Alamos community, and he missed his patients immensely.
A bright, talented student, David was born in Los Alamos in 1950 and raised in a rich stew of science. His father James S. Church was a research chemist who was tapped by the Government to work on the Manhattan Project. Esther W. Church, David’s mother, was a biologist who taught in the schools for decades.
Dr. Church attended the University of New Mexico; he did so to stay close to home and help his mother, whose husband had died and who still had three children at home. At UNM, he worked as the statistician for Lobo basketball and football teams, and he remained a loyal fan. He spent his residency in Virginia and practiced medicine for a time in a rural community where on at least one occasion he was paid with a jar of moonshine.
David returned to Los Alamos to raise his children. He loved the wilderness and for a time volunteered at the Valles Caldera National Preserve, where he relished listening to the elks bugling. One of his truly great joys was taking his children and grandchildren to Bandelier and sharing his love of nature with them.
True fortune greeted David when he met his wife, Judi Church. Their love was palpable, solid, and for the final few years of his life, Judi courageously and nearly single-handedly cared for her husband. David is survived by Judi and his children: Shane Church (Andrea), Heather Church-Soto (Louis), Daniel Church (Christina), and Micah Church. He thoroughly adored his grandchildren Ethan, Colin, and Owen, and another delight of his later years was the addition of Judi’s children to his life: Alicia Storer (Christian) and Angie Hammer (Jesse). He is also survived by his sister Elizabeth J. Church, brother Alan Church (Clare); and his cousins Alexander H. Walker III and Amanda Cardinalli. His brother Paul Church predeceased him in 2020.
The family wish to thank the caregivers who lovingly cared for David this past year: Brenda Gallegos and Shirley Trujillo. We would also like to thank our care team from Los Alamos Visiting Nurses: Julie (nurse), Danielle (CNA), Jen (chaplain), and Rebecca (social worker). You lovingly supported this family through our darkest times. We could not have done it without you.
A service in David’s memory will be held in the spring.
Those who wish to make donations in his name might consider Los Amigos de Valles Caldera at https://www.losamigosdevallescaldera.org/join, Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, The Lobo Basketball Program, or a similar organization of your choice.
The family of David Church has entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the beautiful Espanola Valley. www.devargasfuneral.com 505-747-7477