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David G Carta Memorial

David Gerald Carta 

8/18/40 – 2/16/13

Click here for youtube audio of Memorial Service or download here

Prelude music

“Across the Universe of Time”
                  by Hayley Westenra

“Captain O'Kanes/Clergy's Lamentation”
                  performed by Susan & Rob Meyer

“Be Thou My Vision”
                  performed by Susan & Rob Meyer, Debbie Kirkland


Opening prayer – Pastor Paul Abbott


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Read By Niece, Becky Carta

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Romans 8:31-35, 37-39

What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Brief history of David’s life:   

Written by wife Lynn, and son David Jr,  Read by Pastor Paul Abbott

Born: Middletown, Connecticut 8-18-40, Died: 2-16-13

David was the eldest of four children.  David was class president in 8th grade at St. Sebastian’s school In Middletown. David’s father, Angelo, moved the family to Pasadena, California to allow his children to take advantage of the public university system.  David attended John Marshall Junior High School and Pasadena High School graduating with honors in 1958.  He was accepted to the California Institute of Technology on a full scholarship, graduating in 1962. It was in high school and college that he began his love of folk dancing, ultimately teaching classes from his repertoire of more than 200 dances from many countries.

After graduation from Caltech, a college friend invited David to live in Santiago, Chile where he taught mathematics at La Catolica University.  While in Chile, David met and married Maria Elena Vidaurre Anrique, honeymooning in the Atacama desert, in the Valley of the Moon.  After returning to the United States, they celebrated the birth of David Jr.  in 1968.  Seven months later, while completing his doctorate in math at Washington University at St. Louis, Maria Elena died in a car crash.    David and David Jr returned to Pasadena to live with his parents and sister.  David completed his PhD in 1970 and worked in planetary science first for Aerojet and then for JPL/NASA.

In 1974, David met Lynn Wilkinson at a UCLA folk dance.  They were married on Feb 28, 1975 in Montvale, New Jersey and spent their honeymoon in New Orleans, Louisiana. After suffering from a slipped back disc in 1985 that prevented him from working long periods at a desk, David worked in various fields.   
With his long-time friend, Al Whittlesey, he put his math skills to use, developing a horse race payoff estimator called the ToteMate.  He built a real estate business with his brothers, John and Frank, owning and operating three almond/walnut orchards in Central California.  David used his connections in Chile to build an export company, specifying and designing computers.  And with his wife Lynn, he helped develop a Nematode identification business, while she was completing her PhD.  Even while not working, he seemed to stay busy.

In 1990, David had a double reason for celebration with the birth of his first daughter Amanda Marie Carta and the graduation of David Jr., also from Caltech.  In 1993, they celebrated the birth of their second daughter, Julia Elise Carta.  The family moved to Maryland as Lynn became employed at the US Dept. of Agriculture.  David’s primary occupation in Maryland was soccer dad - driving both Amanda and Julia to various soccer related activities.  David absolutely loved having two young daughters and maintained having two young children kept him young.

David loved a well-spiced meal with good friends and family; Folk dancing, reading science fiction and time travel novels, watching soccer and reminiscing about the great Pele; Math and engineering projects - from calculating rocket trajectories to the design of a random number generator (link to details) that sits at the heart of Linux and Android, flying small planes, tinkering with computers, continuous house projects with his friend Antonio and designing backyard sprinkler systems.  The hospice activities director observed, so now we know what a rocket scientist does when he retires!

Slideshow:  Put together by daughters Amanda and Julia Carta - Please maximize for best effect.

YouTube Video

Memories of My Brother David by John J. Carta
read by brother-in-law David Pryor

David was the first born son of Angelo and Mary Carta. Our parents were first generation Italian Americans born in Connecticut. David and his brothers Frank and John, were born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut and had our formative years there. Having been born into an Italian Catholic family, it was only natural for the first born to become an altar boy and so it was to be. David and our cousin Paul both became altar boys. It was something to behold seeing them in their Robes serving Mass. I hoped they didn't have a pipeline to God, in fear of being told on. I thanked God for David not ratting me out on many occasions.

Without a doubt, our family had a great time in Connecticut. We would spend summers camping in tents at the Shore (On the east coast we call it the shore, on the west coast it’s the beach). What a great life that was.

And then in 1954 we moved to California. In the mid-fifties California was the place to be.  It had the best school system, best roads and lots of work. For a short time we lived with our Grandparents. One day, David was going to impress his little brothers by making a cap gun of sorts made of bicycle spokes and tubes.  After packing the tube with multiple caps using a spoke, he would throw it down on the sidewalk and BOOM!  Except the last time after the fifth or sixth cap the thing went off in his hand and sent the spoke thru his finger and my brother off to the ER.  Our dad was not happy. To make matters worse, the emergency room treated it like a gunshot wound which brought the Pasadena police to the house looking for the gun. Our grandfather, who only spoke Italian, thinking the police were going to take his grandson, put on quite a show, waving his cane and cursing in Italian. What a scene. This pretty much ended his days as an explosive expert.

Flash forward a few years; David and I pulled off what became known as the great Caltech parking stall caper. Having a prime parking stall close or near your building was highly prized and was usually reserved for department heads. As fate would have it, I worked for Caltech's physical plant as a painter. One of my duties was to stencil names on the concrete bumpers for the parking stalls.  Somehow Dr. David Carta's name appeared on a parking stall next to his building. The hoax went undiscovered for a few months. A jealous professor wanting that stall did us in. The caper made it into the school newspaper, the Beaver blab, and my boss just smiled. We were safe!!
During David’s life, he endured heartbreak and physical pain that would have dropped a weaker man to his knees.  He fought through it all and had an amazing life in spite of his challenges.  In the end it took an anomaly to his brain to beat him. I knew him to be a good brother, a great Father and family man.  Please, let’s celebrate his life and all he achieved.

                                 Brother John

Memories written and read by friend, Nick Danos

Impromptu Reflection by Carlos Ribeiro
Only available on MP3

Memories written and read by son, David Jr


When I started to think about what I might say about Dad in this reflection, there were many, many things that came to my mind.  After all, besides being my father, he was also one of my best friends, a confidante, my unofficial thesis advisor, my role model, my business consultant, my source and sink of bad jokes, and although he never told me directly how proud he was of my accomplishments, everyone else always told me that he was my biggest cheer leader.  So please forgive me as I meander through my memories of Dad.

I thought I should mention the odd parallels between my father's and my lives.  How I followed in his footsteps in many unexpected ways.  Being among a few to both be accepted into and attend Caltech.  Both earning PhDs.  Both marrying young, beautiful, naive Episcopal girls.  Both mastering the mathematical technique of Kalman Filters.  Both loving travel and discovery of the world.  Both being a bit of a curmudgeon and lacking tact – although I’m still working on that one. Both being passionate about dancing - although he never thought my favorite type of dance, ballroom, held a candle to his much more complex folk varieties. 

I thought perhaps I should relate the many legacies that he left to me. 

The legacy of a desire to discover Christ.  Dad and I would often discuss and debate biblical issues.  Breaking down the word theology into its parts of

Theos - God    and    Logos - Word or Study

meaning "a rational discourse about God" pretty much described my dad's favorite way to study the Bible and provided great topics for discussion.  We were both enamored of the ministry Reasons to Believe.  Their belief that the truth of God demonstrated in the Bible is consistent and compatible with cutting edge scientific discovery of the Natural world matched both of our world views. 

He imparted to me a legacy of a love of learning.  From books, from people, from cultures.  He taught me by example to never lose the wonder of discovery of the world.  I recall one time discussing what heaven might be like.  His answer was simple and exciting, "I think when we go to Heaven, we will have the opportunity to explore, discover, and learn about all of the majesty of the heavens and the universe beyond the earth first hand."  And he encouraged a love of learning in others, beaming and encouraging both his grandson Sam learning how to play soccer and his grandson Andrew for learning how to swim.

Dad provided me with a legacy of not being afraid to think outside the box to solve problems.  To ask questions and challenge the status quo regardless of what the norm might be.  Not accepting people saying "Well, XY or Z just can't be done."  My aunt Angela tells a story of how my father got her admitted into high school where she was told specifically by the system that she couldn't attend.

He provided me with a legacy of a love of storytelling.  I fondly remember his stories to me about Friend Dragon and his singing of the Foolish Frog and Pepino the Italian Mouse songs to me.  Now as a father of three, I often get requests for Friend Dragon's new adventures or my own renditions of the Foolish Frog song, both at night and on any car ride longer than 5 minutes.

I thought I should tell stories about how deeply he loved his family.  He told me that when he first saw my mother, Maria Elena, having only recently arrived in Chile, he said to himself, "I am going to marry this girl."  After she passed away, Dad doubted whether he could ever love that deeply again.  Then, ten years later, upon meeting my mom, Lynn, he once again fell in love at first sight.  And then it happened two more times with the births of each of my sisters, Amanda and Julia. 

BUT - as I went through all of these different thoughts about my father, Thomas, our youngest child, said his favorite word and suddenly, it clicked what I needed to say about my dad.  Thomas' favorite word for the past month has been "Happy" and Dad got to hear him say it before he passed away.  My Dad's last words to me were "I'm glad you are my son".  I think this is also the message that he would want us each of us to know.  He was truly happy that each of us was part of his life.  He was happy that we were his wife, sons – and he had many sons besides me – Antonio, Carlos, daughters, brothers, and cherished family and friends and he was happy to have been able to have shared the adventure of life with us.


“The Parting Glass” performed by Susan & Rob Meyer, Debbie Kirkland


Requested by sister, Angela Pryor, Read by daughter-in-law, Christine Carta 

The Ship  by Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933)

I am standing upon the seashore

A ship at my side spreads her white sails

in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.


She is an object of beauty and strength

and I stand and watch until at last she hangs

like a speck of white cloud just where the sea

and the sky come to mingle with each other.


Then someone at my side says, there she goes !"

Gone Where?   Gone from my sight....that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar

as she was when she left my side and just as able

to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.


Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,

"There she goes!, there are other eyes watching her

coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,

"There She Comes !"


Closing prayer– Pastor Paul Abbott

Postlude – “Heaven” by Hayley Westenra