The News is saddened to share that David Whipple ’16, a former editor of the Yale Daily News’ WEEKEND section, passed away on Jan. 22, 2019 after a car crash in Colorado.
Whipple graduated Yale with a bachelor’s degree in Ethics, Politics and Economics. He worked as a researcher at a Washington, D.C., law firm following his graduation from Yale. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Whipple’s friends and family commemorated him for both his outstanding intellect and sharp, oftentimes self-deprecating sense of humor.
“David’s death has torn through the entire News community. His intelligence, curiosity and gift for bringing good cheer to the newsroom are reflected in our pages, as well as in all of us who worked with him. We are heartbroken,” said Isaac Stanley-Becker ’16, the editor in chief who presided over Whipple’s board year on the News.
Two of Whipple’s fellow WEEKEND editors, Jane Balkoski ’16 and Andrew Koenig ’16, also remembered him for his charm and goodwill.
“In our joke profile of David [published in the News’ annual prank issue], he is quoted saying: ‘You’re not the most off-putting person I know,’” wrote Balkoski and Koenig in a note to the News. “We return the compliment, and then some. David’s wit and taste, his kindness and unpretentiousness, are all things the world could use more of. We can’t imagine Yale (or life) without him.”
Many of Whipple’s friends and family expressed their sadness at his death in an online journal, hosted on the site CaringBridge, set up in honor of Whipple by his parents, Carol and Ben Whipple. Whipple’s parents introduce their son on the web page as “a lover of birds, words and learning,” in addition to an “avid skier and lifelong Red Sox fan.”
“We have no regrets. We delighted in the young man David was becoming. He knew how much we loved him, and we were awestruck by what he had accomplished. And we knew how much he loved us,” said Whipple’s mother at her son’s memorial service. “We take some comfort in this: David was incredibly happy, maybe the happiest he had ever been. He was on track for his professional life; he was finally getting the chance to ski bum, and the snow conditions were awesome; the Red Sox had won the World Series; and most importantly, he had met and fallen in love with Kate. We know he died a very happy man.”
Though Whipple graduated Yale in 2016, before any current members of the News matriculated to the University, the current staff and editorial board of the News collectively mourn Whipple not only for his contribution to our newspaper, but for the positive impact he made on the people he encountered in life.
“I adore David and I continue to believe that he was one of my top students in both intellect and humor over my 17-year career as a teacher,” wrote Jen Martin, Whipple’s 11th grade history teacher, in a public message to the family. “I luxuriated in teaching a student who was much smarter than myself, but who was also such a communitarian and SO FUNNY. It’s rare to want to write a college recommendation, but when David asked me to, I felt lucky to write down all of the reasons why I loved him … I still talk about him regularly with other teachers who taught him. We always get a wistful ‘remember how awesome that kid was’ face.”
Whipple was warmly remembered by not only those who knew him as a student, but also by those who came to know him in the professional world.
“Those of us who do words for a living have no words. David was going to join our profession. He worked at our side for two years. He gave us his love, his passion, his wisdom, his grace,” wrote former Acting Solicitor General of the United States and legal scholar Neal Katyal, who had been Whipple’s boss after graduation. “He was the best part of humanity, the type of person attracted to the law because he knew he could make a difference in people’s lives. I loved him like a son. He had every quality I want to see in my sons.”
Katyal continued: “I heard from David a couple of weeks ago. He was in Vail. About to get a bartending job. He told me he had met a woman he was crazy about. I was so happy for him, and just wanted him not to forget to show up at Yale Law School in the fall because our profession needs him.”
Natalie Epstein ’16 — who said in her note to the family that Whipple was her first friend at Yale — said that he “was one of the most curious and thoughtful people I’ve ever known.”
“His humility and ability to be self-deprecating and the fact that he never needed anyone to think of him that way could never hide how special he was,” said Epstein. “So many people I encountered who were as gifted as David was academically acted superior, but David never fell prey to that. He was driven by a desire to make the world a better place, not a desire to prove he was better than anyone else. He was such a rare bird (that only he would know the name of).”
Aaron Sibarium ’18, a former Opinion columnist and editor for the News, and who once worked with Whipple on a guest column from October 2015 titled “Lawyers and Judges,” recalled his edit as a telling experience of who Whipple was.
“The whole point of David’s column was that human beings, while deeply fallible, are nonetheless able to learn and reason with each other. ‘A truly moral mind is an anxious one,’ he wrote,” Sibarium said. “‘Doubtful of impulses and gut feelings, painfully aware of the possibility of error.’ Yet at the same time, ‘We’ve all had moments when we realized that one of our deeply held beliefs was not worth holding onto.’ We’ve all had moments where an argument has changed our minds.”
“That spirit of collective knowledge-making is one David embodied throughout his life — from starting a blog with friends to engaging in public debate on Twitter, he was always polite, always nuanced, always interesting,” Sibarium continued. “Like I said, I didn’t know him well. But I’m glad we had a chance to meet. And I’m glad he had a chance — albeit far too short of one — to influence Yale College for the better.”