Guest Writer

David Leon Root (1939-2024)

Many will remember David as the “happiest man in the world.” He lived life with a passion for travel, wildlife, music, making people laugh, and most of all, for his wife Evelyn.

David married his soulmate, Evelyn, who shared his passion for the road less travelled. During their 49 years together, they traveled to over 30 countries beginning with a 9-month backpacking trek through South America. Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, and a month-long journey up the Amazon River where daughter Dawn celebrated her 6th birthday, were among David’s favorites.

The young couple went on to volunteer on the Orangutan Project in Borneo in 1984 where David helped return an orphaned orangutan to the wild. Orangutan expert, Dr. Biruté Galdikas, named the orphan “Davida” in his honor. They were invited to volunteer in Rwanda by mountain gorilla authority, Dr. Dian Fossey in 1985. They also volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand where elephants were rescued from abusive environments.

But it was the wildlife, rain forest, weather, beaches and Pura Vida lifestyle of Costa Rica that captured them. They built their dream beachfront home in Manuel Antonio in 2006.

David and Evelyn’s love is as legendary as their annual Cinco de Mayo parties (100+ guests and authentic Mexican food). Friend Bill Forbes said, “David and Evelyn are my touchstone for what a long-term relationship ought to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such love and caring between two people who have been together so long.”

David loved to play beach volleyball. Oftentimes a volleyball would fly over the railing of the couple’s second story Manhattan Beach, CA beachfront apartment, bounce through the open sliding glass doors and into their living room. It was a friend’s signal to come out and play. David also kept fit by running for 30 years, including the Palos Verdes Marathon.

In 1979 David played his flute at the South Bay Jazz Festival in Redondo Beach, CA with Barabas, a band he formed with friend David Shelton. After moving to Costa Rica, he went on to play with Benjammin’ (Ben Orton) and the Howlers at Dos Locos, Buru, and PAWS fundraisers.

But what people will remember most about David is how he made them feel. “You have a great beard.” “I really like your artwork.” “I want hair like yours!” His heartfelt compliments made you feel happy, important and seen.

David was born in Ogden, Utah to Wilma Abbey and Archibald Root. He’s survived by his wife Evelyn Gallardo, his daughter Dawn Wiley Hoes, and brother William Abbey. An epic Celebration of Life filled with love and music was held May 25th at David and Evelyn’s beach home in Costa Rica.