David Oaksmith, stalwart of Dare County education, dies

By on November 10, 2015

oakDavid E. Oaksmith, a passionate advocate of education and the former chairman of the Dare County school board, died over the weekend at his home in Southerm Shores. He was 83.

Combining 14 years as a math teacher at Manteo High School, eight of those as department chair, and more than 16 years on the Board of Education with 13 years as chairman, Oaksmith served in education for more than 30 years in Dare County.

He had announced his retirement from the board at the beginning of this year.​

Oaksmith served as a Navy officer for 20 years, earning distinction as the youngest commander of a destroyer, He began his second career in education in Dare County, first as a substitute teacher, and was known affectionately as “surfer Dave” by a generation of students

His passionate commitment to ensuring a top-tier public school education for Dare County students generated many milestones, including the construction of four new schools and the renovation of every school across the county.

He was instrumental in launching the Dare Education Foundation to provide affordable housing for teachers, as well as introducing SAT prep courses. Oaksmith also fought to implement and sustain the “More At Four” initiative, ensuring that at-risk 4-year-olds would succeed when they entered school. His advocacy for education was unwavering, and fierce.

While his career accomplishments were extraordinary, he will be remembered by many as a caring, principled man who respected everyone, a friend who would support you in your darkest hour, someone who made everyone he encountered feel valued. He did not care about amassing wealth, fame or social status — his aspiration was to be a good person, and a man of his word, which he equated with integrity.

He loved Jimmy Buffett, good food, Robert De Niro’s performance in Raging Bull, the ocean, his wife and family, the country he served, tennis, baseball, Christmas, the 4th of July, and listening to The Jersey Boys soundtrack while driving in his convertible VW bug.

He often closed his conversations with “. . . alright then, carry on . . .”

David Oaksmith is preceded in death by his parents, Marguerite Patricia Oaksmith, and David Edward Oaksmith Sr.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Judy Oaksmith; his sister Patricia Hedley and her husband, Pete, of San Diego, CA; Judy’s sons David Kemper and his wife Angela of Asheville, NC, and Daniel Kemper and his wife Sara of Lodi, CA; and Dave’s daughters, Laura Oaksmith and her husband Cecil Hooker of New York City, Colleen Oaksmith of Nags Head, Kerry Oaksmith-Sanders and her husband Bob Sanders of Nags Head; Maria Oaksmith of Manteo; and Megan Oaksmith and her husband Amando Bravo of Kill Devil Hills.

Their 11 grandchildren include Erin Kokdil, Sean Kokdil, Devin Sanders, Bryce Sanders, David Walker Giles, Collin Kemper, Paige Kemper, Edward Bravo, Patrick Bravo, Benaiah Kemper and Maggie Kemper.

Services will take place at St Andrew’s By-the-Sea, Saturday, Nov.14, at 2 p.m. and will be followed by a reception.

Donations can be made to the Dare Education Foundation at www.dareeducationfoundation.org.

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