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We all die. The goal is not to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.


This memorial was created for the friends and family of David V. Zakem, who passed away on the 21st of August after a struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Dave leaves behind a legacy through the hundreds of children he has taught and lives he has touched throughout the world.

Dave was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and lived with his mother, Phoebe (Newton) Briggs and younger brother Richard Briggs.  Dave graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1962.  He continued his education through the duration of his life and attended Grand Rapids Junior College, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Syracuse University, and the University of Wisconsin. Dave had a Bachelor’s degree in Education, three Master's degrees in Sociology, Latin American Studies, and Adult Education.  Dave also had two PhD's (AbD) and Human learning and Development and Early Childhood Education.

Dave joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Somalia and Swaziland, and five years in Belize and Guatemala.  He also spent two years in Monterrey, Mexico teaching preschool.  In 1974 Dave went to Iran and built an international school for the Shah, called Shar-Chesmeh.  While Dave was in Iran he was sought out by the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei and became well known in Iran for his  knowledge of Islam. He spent four years as director and left shortly before the Shah fell and turmoil began in that area.  During his time in the U.S. he lived in Madison, Wisconsin where he was involved with community organizations.  In 1980 Dave was also appointed by the governor as Regional Director for the state's Ombudsman Program for the Aging and Disabled. 

Later in life, Dave spent eleven years in Laos teaching at Vientiane International School.  In 2007 he moved to Sudan where he spent five years as the preschool teacher and Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator for Khartoum American School.  Dave had planned to retire and return back to the United States in June, but in February of 2012 he was diagnosed with ALS and had to return immediately. 

While the average person with ALS usually lives in quality for two to five years after diagnosis, Dave decline quite rapidly and died less than a year after being diagnosed.  Dave lived with no regrets and was satisfied with all that he had accomplished in his life. 


Dave was supported through his struggle by his friends from all over the world and passed away knowing that he was dearly loved and had given so many people a sense of hope, encouragement, and peace.

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