David F. Niles, beloved husband, father, and brother, died of natural causes August 2, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. He was 91.
Dave was born October 14, 1928, in Juneau, Alaska, where his parents, Geddes William Niles and Gladys McCormack Niles, served as Baptist missionaries. When he was two years old, the family moved back to Cordelia Junction in Northern California. He left high school early to join the army during World War II and had just arrived in Germany when the war ended.
When he returned to the States, he enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, to learn radio broadcasting. It was the heyday of early talk radio and vinyl, and Dave’s radio career took him to markets all over California and Nevada. By the time he was on the air from San Francisco for KSFO and KNBR, he was a renowned, popular radio host who drew celebrity interviewees such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra.
Dave’s rugged outdoorsman side was almost his undoing. When he was 40, he and his best friend, Scott Carter, built a salmon boat and spent two summers fishing commercially in Alaska. The venture was a great success right up until the night the boat sank, in huge waves, with 16 tons of fish in the nets. Dave, Scott, and a third crewmember were rescued at great risk to himself by another mariner but had to jump from their sinking vessel to his as the two boats slapped against each other in the high seas. Scott included the harrowing story in his book “Twenty Years on Bristol Bay,” to which Dave, a facile writer, contributed.
In 1980, Dave and his wife, Judy, retired to Sun Valley, Idaho, where he pursued his passions for skiing, hiking, biking, and golf. A chronic overachiever, he also fulfilled a lifelong dream of climbing Mount Ranier—twice.
Dave was preceded in death by his son, Kelly; sister Joy Birum; and brother Noble Niles. He is survived by Judy, his wife of 54 years; sister Iris Sea; brothers Phil and Roy Niles; sister-in-law, Katherine McKeown; and many nieces and nephews.