David Tessler, 50, field director of the geographic division, Dept. of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service, passed away suddenly June 17, 2017, while vacationing with his family on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
“Our son was a remarkable person,” said David’s father Gary Tessler. “There was never a time when we didn’t marvel at his quick sense of humor, understanding of complex issues ideas, his ability to understand people, joy for life and compassion.
“Passion and commitment were the hallmarks of everything he did.”
Mr. Tessler was born March 13, 1967, in Denver.
At age 14, a meeting with Jacques Cousteau’s son Jean-Michel at one of John Denver’s environment Windstar Foundation symposiums inspired him to become an environmental biologist.
Mr. Tessler played football at Cherry Creek High School and the University of Redlands, where he formally gravitated toward science.
He later attended CSU and earned a BS in wildlife biology in 1989.
As an ecologist, Mr. Tessler worked at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico gathering data and research for The Nature Conservancy.
He also conducted the first vegetation study at a national monument at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.
Although he received numerous offers from universities, Mr. Tessler took an impromptu trip to Alaska. Captivated by its vast terrain, he accepted a teaching fellowship at the University of Alaska and earned an MA in ecology.
An extreme athlete, Mr. Tessler was a skier, mountain and ice climber and led two climbing groups on an arduous trek up Denali (Mount McKinley).
Mr. Tessler coordinated the Wildlife Diversity program and was the regional research wildlife biologist for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, 2002-2015.
“I just love being outside, experiencing the natural world in its purest form,” he told his parents. “Biology is a way to explore nature and act as a caretaker at the same time.
“I’m living my bliss when I’m outdoors.”
Mr. Tessler studied deer, bears, walruses, bats, amphibians, songbirds, marine mammals, Alaska salmon and marine fish, rare habitats, fire history and invasions of exotic flora.
“He had a tremendous passion, not just for science but art, politics, philosophy, religion, history and social issues,” Gary Tessler said. “He wanted to save the planet, one desert, one mountain, one ice flow, one person and one animal at a time.”
In 2015, the federal government hired Mr. Tessler as deputy field supervisor, geographic division, Dept of the Interior for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Based in Hawaii, Mr. Tessler oversaw conservation and research of all threatened and endangered species on the Hawaiian Islands and surrounding areas.
He also studied the impact of the military, business and environment on ecology and society.
Mr. Tessler married Tracey at the University of Alaska. They lived an idyllic life in Girdwood before moving to Anchorage, and later traveled the world.
“In his much too short life, David brought so much love, energy, joy, caring and beauty into the world that even death cannot extinguish it,” Gary Tessler said.
David Tessler is survived by his wife Tracey; children River, 7, and Sierra, 4; parents Gary and Susan Tessler; brothers John Tessler, Stuart (Leah) Kaufman and Phillip (Rachel) Kaufman; and five nephews and one niece.
He was predeceased by his mother Yvonne Fair Tessler Douglas, brother George Tessler and sister Stacy Tessler.
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