OBIT DavidAlanBrew

David Alan Brew, Ph.D., of Los Altos died after a short illness on November 7.

Dave was a scientist, geologist, passionate defender of our natural resources, world traveller, persistent golfer, avid reader, precise writer, and rigorous thinker. He was most at home in the mountains, hiking, trekking, skiing and always working. He felt the roots of family and history deeply, through his wife, four daughters and eight grandchildren, his extended family in the midwest, southwest and northeast, his brothers and parents. He could also pen an excellent haiku when pressed.

A native of Ithaca, NY, Dr. Brew graduated from Dartmouth College (’52) and Stanford University (’64). He was fully employed or in emeritus status with the U.S. Geological Survey since July 1952, except for his graduate years at Stanford and at the University of Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar. He was a life-long field geologist, mapping and studying a great variety of geologic situations in Colorado, Utah, the Alps, the Himalayas, and especially southeast Alaska, where he focused his efforts since 1961.

His geologic studies resulted in authorship or co-authorship of over 200 peer-reviewed published maps, articles, and books. He held multiple positions in the Geological Survey and in the Department of the Interior, including the leadership of the scientific team that produced the first large-scale Environmental Impact Statement ever, describing the likely outcomes of the Trans Alaska Hot-Oil Pipeline. Upon his death, he was overseeing the production of a geologic map and report for Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in southeast Alaska.

For the last decade, his was a critical voice among the community of residents and activists in Squaw Valley, targeting proposed large-scale real estate developments in the North Tahoe region of California. He was smart enough to see through the spin, and fearless enough to raise his concerns. His kindness and humor earned the affection of many in the Valley, and beyond.

He will be much missed.

He is survived by his wife Sally (Los Altos), his brother Doug (Telluride, CO), his daughters Betsy and her husband Bob (Lakewood, CO), Perrin and her husband Brian (Portland, OR), Kate and her husband Jeff (San Rafael, CA), Emily and her wife Miel (Portland, OR), and five granddaughters and three grandsons who are carrying their grandfather’s spirit of adventure out into the world.

A memorial service for Dave will be held at 2pm on Saturday, November 18 at Christ Episcopal Church (1040 Border Rd, Los Altos, CA 94024). A celebration of his life is planned for Squaw Valley in early February ’18.

Memorial donations can be made to the Peninsula Open Space Trust ( and the Truckee Donner Land Trust (, in lieu of flowers.

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