Thoughts from Irene McFadden, Immediate Past Chair and SMI Treasurer

Dave DeciIt is with deep sadness the SMI Board of Directors mourns the loss of our colleague and friend, Dr. David Deci. It remains shocking to be thinking of Dave retrospectively - I still find myself wishing to discuss some nuanced matter with him or looking forward to seeing his face on the next zoom call and hearing about his post-retirement life in New England. We invite the SMI community to share your memories and reflections of Dave. These will remain as a memorial to him and to his tireless work for the unsheltered homeless.

It was a gift to have known and befriended Dr. Dave Deci; I will miss him greatly. I entered the world of street medicine in 2009 as an outsider in a way…a hospital administrator and non-clinician with no actual experience in the delivery of care to rough sleepers. But Dave immediately welcomed me, emphasizing that we each bring a unique set of gifts and experiences to the effort, and that my contributions were as important as those of the clinical providers. Dave has had a lot to do with me remaining an SMI volunteer for nearly 15 years; he had the foresight to know that SMI’s future depended upon inclusion of a range of perspectives and skills along with a willingness and openness to growth and evolution. From the beginning, I found Dave to be one who truly wanted to hear what each member had to say and who took the time to give thoughtful consideration to every idea.  While Dave was always open and receptive, he was equally able to be firm and definitive if he felt we were moving in the wrong direction (or not moving fast enough!), straying from mission, or simply wasting valuable time.

Later, when I became SMI board chair, I developed a deep appreciation for Dave’s many attributes. In my mind, he was the perfect board member: he never missed a meeting, was always on time, had read all the materials and was prepared with thoughtful, intelligent questions and observations, and Dave understood meeting protocols and helped to keep things on track. Whenever I was wrestling with knotty issues, Dave was a regular go-to resource if I needed another Director with whom to confidentially talk things through. Throughout my tenure as board chair, Dr. Deci also served as SMI’s primary champion for student involvement in the Institute’s mission and work. Dave was front and center through each of the early stages in the establishment of SMI’s Student Coalition (SMISC). As we sought mentors for developing SMISC leaders, Dave always took the lead. He reliably attended all student meetings in addition to his formal SMI board and committee obligations, ever encouraging and commending the contributions made by these future street medicine providers.  Dr. Deci will have an ongoing legacy in the many up and coming health care providers who have interacted with him and been supported and encouraged by him through his involvement with SMISC.

As I remember Dave, first and foremost I recall him as a leader who personified the SMI mission and values; he lived the mission and exemplified the values in every interaction. He was a man of great integrity and intelligence. How I will miss those gifts along with his ever-positive and supportive spirit. God bless you, Dave.

Dave Deci  Dave Deci 

Dave Deci  Dave Deci

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