H David “Dave” Stensel, age 76, was born and raised in Schenectady, New York. After Mohonasen High, he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, attending from 1963-1964. In 1964, after discovering an affinity for applied sciences and an equilibrium better suited for land than sea, he attended Union College, graduating in 1967 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.
Dave originally dreamed of being a math
teacher. However, engineering and emerging environmental water issues intrigued him. He attended Cornell University on scholarship, earning a Master’s in Environmental Engineering in 1968. At the urging of a favorite professor, he pursued and received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Cornell in 1971.
After college, Dave’s career took him west to Utah. Then, after a decade in the industry, he began teaching at the University of Utah. In 1984, good fortune brought him and his family to the PNW to join the University of Washington Civil Engineering Department. Dave enjoyed 32 years at UW, while raising a family on Mercer Island.
Dave received multiple awards and recognition during his career. Dave’s greatest honor was his 2019 WEF Camp Applied Research Award, the highest award bestowed upon a researcher in the development of wastewater systems. The award recognized his life- long work to develop and advance biological nutrient processing, using microorganisms to break down organic substances in wastewater without chemicals.
When he was not in the lab or teaching, Dave worked as a private consultant for multiple companies and municipalities worldwide. Everything he did professionally was done with a desire to enable clean water to be returned to the environment.
Dave was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, colleague, mentor, and friend. His wealth was his family,
the people around him, and his lifelong friendships. If he liked something, his joy was in sharing it with you and sharing the experience. He also had a wonderful sense of humor and lived for uncontrollable belly laughs. Dave was especially generous, regularly putting the needs of others before his own and finding a deep satisfaction in giving. Dave loved Friday fajitas and margarita nights, Caribbean murder mysteries, great wine, and raved about his wife’s delicious
cooking. Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated with fresh crab or flown-in lobster, with Dave managing the live crustaceans and outdoor boiling pot. He lived for his morning latte and relished the challenge of a good cross-word-puzzle. As a former athlete, he also loved the outdoors and daily walks, always longing to go to Monterey, CA each summer to capture the best beach sunsets. Dave adored touring and exploring new gardens with Pat, as well as their timeless adventures to Spain, Italy, and Norway. Dave also celebrated history, was an avid reader, and was always eager to share what he had learned or read. Every day Dave treasured his family and regularly let them know. Every day Dave celebrated life and his good fortune.
Dave collapsed and sadly could not be revived on March 30, 2021. Dave is survived by his wife of almost 19 years, Patricia Stensel; daughter Robin Lowe (David and grandchildren, Ryan and Samantha); son James (Rika), and step-daughter Nicole Schueller (Duane and step- grandchildren, Avery and Colby). Dave contributed to the world, touched so many people’s lives, and will be sorely missed.
Honoring his dedication to clean water and access to food, he would have appreciated any donations made to the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association or Northwest Harvest in his name.