David Paul Dumbleton, Ph.D.
April 29, 1942 — March 2, 2016

David Paul Dumbleton, Ph.D. David Paul Dumbleton Ph.D., died suddenly March 2, 2016. His wife and daughter were with him, surrounded by caring hospice and medical staff. David was born April 29, 1942, in Waukesha, to Paul Kenneth and Violet Z. D. Dumbleton. His school years progressed through Waukesha public schools, where he excelled in all academics and several musical programs, vocal and instrumental. He played trumpet in the marching band and French horn in the local symphony, participated in choral work and loved the motet ensemble. David edited his school year book and the school paper and was an honor student and salutatorian.

A Bachelor of Arts in chemistry was his first college degree from Northwestern University where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. Next he earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was encouraged to accept a full scholarship to the Institute of Paper Chemistry at Lawrence University, Appleton. There he accomplished a master’s degree and then earned his Ph.D. in physics/materials science. The invitation to participate in post doctoral research led him to Stockholm, Sweden, and the Swedish Forest Products Institute. Invited to join research in monofilaments for ChemiFaser in Lenzing, Austria, he concluded a better career path might be waiting back home, so he returned stateside and began a series of research and development assignments for some of the leading companies — first in the paper industry, then in packaging and ultimately in renewable materials. Over the course of almost 40 years, he worked for St. Regis Paper Co., West Nyack, N.Y.; Phillip Morris Industrial, Green Bay; American Can Co., Neenah; Monsanto, St. Louis, Mo.; Graphic Packaging, Philadelphia, Pa.; Glattfelter Paper Co., York, Pa.; RJ Reynolds, Richmond, Va.; and Atlas Materials Testing Co., Chicago, Ill. He rose to leadership positions in research and development and is remembered by many many colleagues and protégés as a superb critical thinker and uplifting mentor. His great intellect was buoyed by unflagging wit and interest in all the people he met.

Along with the corporate employments, David engaged in many consultative research projects, which were published with great response for their information value and for the clear and highly readable quality of his writing. His objective always was to make the material accessible to anyone needing the information, scientist or other — no mumbo jumbo or artifice. Papers he produced were and are of seminal importance to research in several industries to this day.

David was proud of the training he received as a member of DeMolet, and later became a 32nd Degree Mason, and a member of both York and Scottish rites to honor his father and father-in-law. Additionally, he became a member of the Loyal Order of the Shrine, joining both Milwaukee and Green Bay chapters. Church activities over decades also demonstrate his quiet, deeply held beliefs.

A lifelong love of learning, especially history and most specifically the American Civil War formed the prevailing direction of his voracious reading. He traveled with attention to the historic importance he encountered everywhere, while equally and actively seeking to know the people of today in each place.

A lively sense of humor endeared him to his many friends who also value his steadfastness and care for their well-being. A chance to gather over a beer, tell stories and explore cuisines was ever to be engaged.

David’s lifelong partner, his wife Susan (nee Vrbik) shared his love of travel, exploration, music (which included learning to play the bagpipe and marching in parades), hours in the outdoors observing wildlife and natural events (the return of the American bald eagle), biking, hiking and sailing and most recently nurturing the development of their orchard and vineyard while keeping bees, from whom he harvested delicious herb and wildflower honey. A red compact tractor became his favorite ride as he tamed the acres of grassland or plowed wind-driven snow.

The couple’s only child, Danika, has been their mutual delight, and the two beautiful grandchildren, Penelope Violet (3) and William Howard (16 months), she and her husband, Cpt. Christopher M Robbins, U.S. Army, added to our family were his greatest joy, and he looked forward to sharing and helping to shape their world.

David’s parents have preceded him and he will be laid to rest beside them at Prairie Home Cemetery, Waukesha, in a private observance on Saturday, March 12, at 10 am. His beloved sister Diane Paterson and her husband James will help with the memorial celebration tentatively planned for August 12, 2016, on the grounds of Orchard Cottage, New Glarus, his home and favorite residence.

The family respectfully requests no floral tributes, but eagerly solicits remembrances in the form of stories from any and all who knew him, which will contribute to a book to memorialize his life.

Sincerest gratitude to health care and medical persons and hospice workers who embraced us in this last moment of David’s wonderful life.

Cress Funeral and Cremation Service, 608-238-3434, is serving the family. Please share your memories at