by Ruth Kilcoyne Fulcher
David Kilcoyne was a longtime member of the ALS community, working on a number of different beamlines starting in 1999. He passed away in June 2022 and will be missed dearly.
My earliest memories of David were his tireless capacity to be busy all of the time. He was a cheerful and happy little boy, always busy playing with whichever playmates he could find and wandering about in our neighbourhood in pursuit of whatever interested him. This was a huge source of worry to us all, especially at the end of the day when invariably he had to be searched for and brought home! In an email to his sister Jenny, he wrote, “I remember Ruth and I used to swim in the air conditioning cooling tower which had a shallow pool, before the gates were locked. I can still remember her calling me in the late evenings to come back home!”
But he could also be still when he wasn’t wandering about the neighbourhood, and I think his love of finding out how mechanical things worked began at a very young age. My first memory of his innate curiosity as to how things worked was when at the age of 7 or 8, he totally took apart a clock belonging to our father, who as you can imagine was not at all pleased with him, but David then proceeded to put it all back together again, in perfect working order! We also have memories of him making homemade radios in his bedroom and it was fortunate he had his own room because it looked somewhat like a laboratory most of the time!
He was a brilliant student at school, excelling in many subjects, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, English, music, to mention but a few.
I remember he used to stay back late at school in order to practise the school piano, as we did not have one at home, and in this way he taught himself to play and he continued to play the piano throughout his whole life. He also became involved in Drama at school, and I have memories of him being part of school plays, many of them Shakespearean.
He had a wonderful hands-on approach to life, and he excelled in so many areas, from altering the hems on his trousers to taking apart an old piano, piece by piece, fixing whatever needed to be fixed and then putting it back together perfectly again, not to mention tuning it as well! I still have that piano in my possession, and it is playable after nearly 40 years! He was thrilled with the purchase of his current piano, after living in Oakland for several years without one, so much so he named it Margaret!
Whilst studying at Sydney University, he supported himself financially through waiting positions at many of Sydney’s top restaurants, where he gained knowledge of wines, cooking and culinary methods. He was a talented and versatile cook and a purist as to authenticity, and I still use recipes which he gave me many years ago. In his later life he enjoyed a glass of rosé.
He did not believe in owning a television as he considered it a waste of time! But he would listen to podcasts and music and kept abreast of world and American news on his computer.
Our earliest memories of his passion for kite flying goes back to when he was a young boy in Pakistan when, apart from his wandering about the neighbourhood, he used to fly kites on the top the house roofs, despite our fears that he could fall off the edge! He still had that passion up to the present day and spent many hours of his leisure time making his own kites, sending me emails and photos of his masterpieces, each with individual names. His words speak for themselves –
“I try and go kite flying a few times a week, with some of my kites flying (while still tethered to me) but I have also had many crashes. My last outing was great and one of the kites really flew very high and needed a lot of control. In the end it dived to the earth – but survived. Others (the Patangs, Kuttals) just spin, so I will have to re-work the aerodynamics to see if they can really fly. It gets me out in the open, see the sun going down in Cesar Chavez Park (which I have not done for over 19 years!) in the west of Berkeley.”
“You will have to enlarge the image, but this was the second fledge of one of my Guda kites. The really good one broke away from me and landed in the SF bay some three days ago.
I have not given up yet. Quite frankly, I never possessed a kite in Lahore, but this exercise gets me into the open and is very invigorating at 2100 hours just opposite SF, with the sunset on the horizon.
Here are some of my kites. Two Patangs, which I have to redo because of the tissue paper and two Gudas – the one with the round tail is the Afganistani, the one with the straight tail is the Pakastani.
Much love, D.”
He was unique in every way and a deep thinker, expressing for example his own philosophy about our world and our place in it, and in his own words –
“I have remained a bachelor, through my choice, simply because of my philosophy on the future of this Earth, and the number of people and children living on this Earth. I hope this does not disappoint, you my sisters, since the bloodline ends with me, at least I think it does!
I love all of you very much,
We emigrated from Pakistan to the UK when David was 11. Four years later the family decided to move to Australia. After approximately 9 years in Australia where he finished his secondary schooling and university degrees, he lived and worked in various countries in Europe, including England, Germany and Canada, finally settling in California, USA, for the duration of his life.
Although he lived overseas, David frequently visited Australia to see family and friends, but due to COVID restrictions we have not seen him in person for a number of years. However, we have been in constant communication via email and Facetime. Over the past few years, David and I have enjoyed watching the hatching and development of the peregrine falcon chicks at the Berkeley Campanile.
David had planned to travel when he retired and the sadness of him not being able to do that is very profound.
He was our little brother and we loved him dearly. He will be sadly missed and will forever be in our hearts.