David Lascelles Birt passed away at age 76 surrounded by loving family after suffering a stroke six days prior.
To hundreds of UCD students, he was known as Sensei Birt. David was a seventh-degree black belt in aikido and a first-degree black belt in iaido, practicing these Japanese martial arts for more than 50 years, including 25 years as a sensei in Davis. One of his aikido students wrote that David “had the wisdom to take light matters seriously, and serious matters lightly,” epitomizing him beautifully.
Born in London in 1945, David spent his childhood in England, China and Japan before moving to Buffalo, N.Y. His young adult years were punctuated by organizing political movements, including Vietnam War protests and civil rights advocacy. David never missed a Buffalo Bills football game, and read every book written on Winston Churchill.
He was a preeminent educator, teaching Montessori, elementary, math and eventually helping inmates get their GEDs. His sense of humor was unparalleled, and his students (and family) often heard the bad joke: “There are three types of people in this world: those who can count, and those who can’t.”
He passed away on his only grandchild’s first birthday. Becoming a grandfather was one of the great joys of his life. He will be celebrated each year on his grandson’s birthday, a beautiful synchronicity of life and death and grief as love. He is survived by his wife Vicki Kramer; children Micaela, Julia and Brian; and extended family.