With dignity intact and on his own terms, David W. Ethridge followed the Bethlehem star home to heaven on December 21, 2020 at the age of 66. He passed surrounded by all his “girls,” wife Kathy Hancock Ethridge to whom he was married for 32 years, eldest daughter Christie Ethridge Diez (Jorge), youngest daughter Lexie Ethridge Wray (Chad), and bonus daughter Deneisha Ingram, who cared for him by his side every day.
After a years-long battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s, his death was not quick or easy. But even that is a testament to the man he was: stoic and strong and fiercely independent. He baffled even the most experienced hospice nurses.
David was born second of five siblings to his late mother Barbara Williams Ethridge and surviving father Gene Ethridge. He spent his childhood in Marietta, Ga. entertaining his three brothers, Henry, George and Dan, and his sister Ann at the dinner table as the family goofball.
When he wasn’t playing the trumpet, he contributed to the number of broken windows in the house, to his father’s despair. His nature as a provider was cultivated early as he helped his parents at Christmas and contributed money to convince them to take the first family vacation. From that moment on, he never stopped providing for the ones he loved.
Following his father’s advice to “make something of himself” and recognizing his aversion to taking orders from a boss, he decided to become one and founded his own accounting firm, which endured for 42 years.
Because of his abundant loyalty and razor-sharp smarts (and wits), clients bucked the trend of rotating auditors and chose to keep him on for decades at a time. Even though his job required him to travel at least a third of the year, he exhausted his body and funds to fly home every weekend, if only for a few hours, to be with his family.
When he was not crunching numbers, and sometimes even when he was, his sole mission was to make you laugh. Underneath his accounting suit revealed his Superman alter ego: an 80s hair-band rocking, pun-loving, hiking enthusiast/body surfer, animal softie and kid-magnet who avoided confrontation at all costs. He won over the toughest bullies and coldest hearts, proving the power of kindness and humility above all. His kindness outmatched only by his work ethic and generosity.
Even as the disease tormented his brain by erasing his memories and tangling his words, his humor remained intact. Sometimes a joke was the only thing he could manage to say. That, or to call the Georgia Bulldogs, hence the name G-Daddy to his two beautiful surviving granddaughters, Maddie and Bree Wray.
It was only at this stage of his life he revealed dance moves he had previously kept hidden, swaying his hips in directions we didn’t know he could. The subsequent laughs only encouraged him more. He became a favorite at Orchard at Brookhaven, the memory care community where he lived the last year and a half of his life.
If his life could be summed up in one quote, it would be in the words of John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
“Due to social distancing, a small family-only funeral service will be held on Sunday, December 27, 2020 at Peachtree City United Methodist Church, 225 Robinson Rd, Peachtree City, GA 30269, at 2 p.m. That will be followed by a graveside service at Westminster Memorial Gardens, 2090 GA-54, Peachtree City, GA 30269, where everyone he loved is invited.”
In lieu of flowers, the family is establishing a David W. Ethridge Scholarship Fund to assist caregivers with a heart for helping people living with dementia. Until the fund is officially formed, donations can be made here, where the funds will be held until the nonprofit is active: