David Mark Dokelsky

Born: October 19th, 1952

Passed: July 27th, 2017

I choose to not do a traditional obituary, but to tell you all about a man whose life was cut too short and although he should have lived longer, I won’t dwell on the sad, but hopefully inspire you about the man and who he really was…


David Mark Dokelsky was born on a Sunday in Chicago, Illinois where the average high temperature was 59 .  He was 7 pounds 11 ounces and had ears that stuck out with big blue eyes and a smile to to melt your heart.  David was a happy child with an easy going personality.

David preferred to be more of an acedemic person than an athletic person and he  had many talents, as he was quite creative.  As a young boy of that era he liked his superheros, he loved Batman and Green Latern and collected the comics his whole life; a love that never dissipated with time.  As a pre-teen he would make these “paper men” that were quite unique; they were made from paper and tape and would have a head, body, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  Mom would make clothing for them and he would line them up on his desk with pride.  My favorite were the teeny tiny ones he would make.  They were about an inch in heighth.  He used these paper men to entertain the children when he babysat.  I remember the 2 boys down the street loved David to watch them, one had a speech impediment and David became accustomed to his speech and was able to communicate normally with him.  This is one of the reasons they loved him, he made an effort.

In high school he played the flute and tried his hand at baseball.  He was also a boyscout and one of his favorite experiences in boyscouts, besides all the normal stuff, was saving his money and going to Philmont.  He actually got to go twice.  He loved to tell the story about how some of the boys and he went on a hike and stumbled upon a bear cub.  The other boys wanted to go over and play with this adorable cub, but David tried to tell them that where a baby was the mama was not far behind and unless they felt they could out run a bear it would be best if they just backed off and gave it room admiring it from afar.  Needless to say because David knew he was a slow runner, he started backing up and looking for a place to be safe.  The other boys started to head toward the cub when the mama bear came around the corner and the boys had to b-line it for saftey.  David said the looks on their faces was pretty priceless.  Did you know David saved a scout at Philmont?  He was horseback riding and one of the scouts had never riden a horse before.  The scout was walking the horse when a rattle snake scared his horse and it took off!  David took off after the scout and was able to rein in his horse before the scout fell off or the horse ran off the unforseen cliff.  David never thought twice about it.

David loved school, he often said he would be a professional student.  David’s love for learning lead him to have multiple degrees; his prize one was his Respiratory Therapy (RT) degree.  David lived and breathed RT!  So much so he wanted to share with others his love and became an instructor.  Over his career he received many accommodations and after his passing, I received acknowlegement of what a great instructor and how he changed the life of so many students.  The nicest compliment I read about him was from a friend who stated “David made such an impression on me and I’ve always credited him for really changing me.  I was a ‘little rough around the edges’ and he really helped me see things for what they are and not what people try to make them appear.  He was wise beyond his years and will always be thought of as the best teacher I ever had, not to mention a very good friend.”  So many stated how he made you laugh and what a great sense of humor he had, how kind he was, and a pleasure to be around.  Others have said he was such a gentleman and that he gave great advice.

David always wanted to be married and so it came about when he married Debra Nelles, they were married until 2012 when she passed.  They were married for about 30 years and their time together was filled with hardship and difficult times with a sprinkle of happiness.


David had many interests…writing stories, cooking, diving, reading, playing board games, watching movies, a love of animals, and most of all having a good conversation with friends and family.


His official cause of death was hypoxic hypercarbic respiratory failure, phrenic nerve paralysis, cervical spinal cord compression, epidural abscess cervical spine.


I could go on…but as life comes to an end so must the life story of David.  David loved his family and he leaves behind an older brother, Lawrence Keller and his wife Silvia Keller, two younger sisters, Rustie Daye, and Nadja Knighte and her husband Ray Keagbine, his niece An-Tanya Palmer and her husband John Palmer and their children Nicholas and Alucia.  A small family indeed, but one that will miss him with great love and sadness in their hearts.


Travel far and wide, let the stars be your guide, be happy and know you are loved David.

Go in peace my brother.

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