David A. Morse was born in Illinois in September 1943 and passed away in early April. His family said that the long time East County man is sorely missed by his two children, Anna (Willian) and Ryan Morse, his stepson Mark Helmantoler (Claudia), his former wife Jan Morse Bazdorf, grandson Marely Helmantoler, his brothers Paul and Steve, sisters Betsy and Mary, and “countless others who had the privilege of knowing this kind, quiet and gentle man.” He was preceded in death by his stepson Eric Helmantoler.
Jan Morse Bazdorf said that they lived in Julian for nearly 50 years. She worked at the Bank of America and she met him when he came in to open a bank account. Bazdorf said that they new each other for 50 years, but when both their children went to Spencer Valley School in Santa Ysabel, as their kids went to camp, David, a chef and bread baker, he would bake bread, the kids would make cookies and help with the dinners. She said after that reconnection, they were married about a year later.
“David was a chef by trade and a philosopher by passion,” wrote Bazdorf. “He was a voracious reader and made sure that he always had his daily newspaper. Throughout his life, he always had a thirst for knowledge.”
David served in the Peace Corp for 10 years, travelling to Iran and Turkey, but while in Austria he found his passion for baking bread. He woke up every morning at 3 a.m. to work at a local bakery where he learned the art of breadmaking.
David worked at Camp Stevens in Julian for 25 years, a camp rooted in the Episcopal Church and the natural world, a place where he put his vast baking skills to good use.
“Thousands of campers, counselors, staff members and guests were transformed by the smell and taste of all the different breads that David would regularly make. His children have inherited his passion for not only cooking and baking, but also sharing the love that comes from making people feel special by preparing food from scratch.”
David left Camp Stevens and became interested in teaching Foodservice Managers classes for the county of San Diego in the back country, including Julian and Alpine to hundreds of students. Bazdorf said that the woman who certified him said that she could find no one in the backcountry to provide food services in the backcountry, and though he lived in Julian, he immediately said yes because he loved to drive. So, he traveled the backcountry, Julian, Jacumba, Pine Valley, Alpine, and anywhere he was asked to go. In Alpine, he regularly taught foodservice classes for the Kiwanis Club of Alpine.
Alpine Kiwanis Peggy Meanor said it has its own cook shack that it takes throughout Alpine for various community events, making hamburgers and hotdogs for schools, parades, or whatever the occasion might be.
“I would try and get around 20 of our Kiwanians because you need volunteers to help work and they all must have their food handler’s card,” she said. “He would commute, and we would go to the community center for class, and he would give the class and issue our card then and there. He has done this for us for the past six years. He also did our food manager certification class which would take half a day. He was always willing to do that for us. He would always give us a special price because we are a nonprofit organization and trying to help the community. He was always very accommodating in helping us out.”
Bazdorf said David learned Spanish during this time due to the number of Hispanic students that work in the food service industry that attended his classes.
David was also an active member of the Chefs de Cuisine, San Diego Chapter for decades and served on its Board of Directors.
Bazdorf said that David moved from Julian in 2018 to El Cajon. Their two youngest children moved from Alpine to Spring Valley and brought their father to Spring Valley last December.
“He has been in the backcountry an exceedingly long time, and even though it was not all Alpine, he is known by many,” said Bazdorf. “He was a very caring person that tried to adapt to whatever situation. He did a really good job and people really liked him.”