Deceased July 8, 2020

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In Memory

David Applefield died from an apparent heart attack on July 8 in Red Bank, N.J. He collapsed on a playground while shooting baskets with his son, Alexandre, not long after losing the Democratic primary, as he had anticipated, in his race for Congress. 

David helped weave the connective thread that held our class together after Amherst. He held the honorary title “Class Secretary for Life,” and David’s creative and sometimes unorthodox quarterly writing prompts challenged classmates to share the unfolding of our lives.

His unexpected death is a collective loss for our class, but it is heartbreaking for those who knew David well and cherished his insatiable curiosity, his generosity of spirit, his exuberant energy, his hunger to connect and his readiness to challenge the accepted wisdom. He radiated fun, playfulness and joy. For me, and for Jeff Neustadt ’78, we have lost not only our best friend of 45 years, but the soulmate with whom we shared our lives—not just at weddings and reunions but on trips sailing up the Nile on a felucca, sleeping out on beaches on Greek islands and tromping through the steamy ruins of Angkor Wat. We were incredibly fortunate to have his friendship and love for nearly half a century.

During his protean career, David wrote two novels, founded the literary journal Frank and served as the Financial Times special representative for sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, among other pursuits. After 35 years in Paris, David chose to pursue his lifelong dream of running for Congress and moved back to New Jersey in 2019.

David is survived by his parents and two siblings in the United States and by his wife, Julia Alvarez, and their three children in France. After the pandemic subsides, a celebration of David’s life will be held at Amherst. 

David Whitman ’78 and Jeff Neustadt ’78