Spirited 'Boston Dave' made Haines, mountains his home
March 28, 2019
Friends of snowboarder David Alan Dzenawagis, known locally as "Boston Dave," gathered to celebrate his life in Haines on Friday night at Fairweather Ski Works. Dzenawagis, 34, died March 13 from injuries suffered in an avalanche while snowboarding on Mount Ripinsky.
Friends and acquaintances remember Dzenawagis as an optimistic, positive man who always kept a smile on his face. Garrett Montgomery met Dzenawagis in the spring of 2017 at the disc-golf course behind the fairgrounds. A quick friendship formed and Dzenawagis took Montgomery into the mountains to learn how to backcountry snowboard.
"That was my first time ever to go backcountry snowboarding," Montgomery said. "We ended up going to ride a whole bunch. He was a super upbeat, positive guy."
Montgomery recalled one backcountry tip with Dzenawagis when the snow conditions and weather were poor. "The snow was crusty. It kept getting worse and worse and he kept being positive," Montgomery said. "The whole time he kept saying, 'This is going to be great!'"
Residents would often see Dzenawagis walking his big dog, Mickey, about town. He often played hockey this winter. During one pickup game, he collided with another player and chipped his tooth. Without missing a beat, he kept skating and smiling, showing off his new "hockey tooth."
Originally from Cape Cod, Dzenawagis moved to Haines from Mount Baker, Wash. to recreate in the surrounding mountains. He performed an assortment of odd jobs including electrical work, construction, welding and commercial fishing.
Dzenawagis was born in Hyannis, Mass. on March 27, 1984 to nurse Lynda Minarek and builder Alan Dzenawagis, who died of cancer when Dave was a teenager. Dzenawagis grew up on Cape Cod in a home filled with pets from dogs and cats to birds and turtles. He became a "huge" animal lover his sister said. He spent free time outdoors, at the beaches, and with his friends. He was a member of the Catholic church, played hockey for Barnstable High School, and following graduation worked as his father had, in the building trades on the Cape.
He was, his sister Amanda Dzenawagis said, a popular guy in school and "the adventurer" in the family. When he was about 25, "Dave got on a bus with $300 and headed to the mountains," working at a ski resort in Vermont, then onto ski areas in Oregon and Washington, and finally landed in Haines.
This past year, he fished for squid in California and salmon in Bristol Bay. He recently earned a certificate in welding and was a part-time student at UAS. "Dave could live out of a backpack," Amanda said. In his four years here, Haines had become his home she said, and was all he talked about on recent family visits, "It was Alaska this, Alaska that," she said.
"David really, really had a strong love of the outdoors," his mother Lynda Minarek said, and Haines offered all he had dreamed of.
She said he was a "warm and gentle" son who called often. "We talked on the phone three to four times a week."
Aunt Cindy Kelley lived next door to the family when Dzenawagis was growing up and said with no children of her own, she was extra close to her nephew. "He was such a good person," she said, polite, pleasant, and kind to his elders.
On his last Thanksgiving visit to Cape Cod he spent a week with is 99 year-old grandmother Edna Dzenawagis and cooked the turkey dinner. He regularly mailed his grandmother letters and mementoes from Haines. Mickey, his large black dog that a friend has adopted, was named for his grandfather.
In addition to his mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and dog, Dzenawagis leaves uncles Michael Welsch, Steve Fedele, and John Dzenawagis, and several cousins.
His family will host a wake on Cape Cod on March 31 at the John Lawrence Funeral Home in Marstons Mills, followed by a funeral mass April 1 at 10 am at Our Lady of Victory in Centerville.
Memorial donations are being accepted by the MSPCA, 1577 Falmouth Rd., Hyannis, MA 02601 or by visiting www.mspca.org.
Cards may be sent to Lynda Minarek at 1 Carlton Dr., Apt. 220, Mashpee, MA 02649.