Dave Churchman

I received this information through “lovers of letterpress” on Facebook:

Just got an email from Rich Hopkins saying that Dave Churchman has died on the 29th.
… He’d been recovering from cardiac bypass surgery & was doing well. Getting back into the things he loved, playing tennis. He was 83, but still very active. Told me he’d gotten back to playing tennis. Badly, he said.
… I’d exchanged a few emails with him over the past couple weeks about our plans to exchange money for stuff I thought I need for the shop and joked about how much stuff he had to get rid of that would eat up room at my digs.
… Dave was a fine human being, ornery, gruff, friendly, helpful & kind. A very good friend to me, to my father, to my other printing buddies. His loss lessens the number of true letterpress printers & good people.
… A sad way to start another year of printing …

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Posting on FB was by Nils R Bull Young

Sad to hear this about a near-contemporary, but thanks for passing the news on. I first met Dave at an American Typecasting Fellowship conference in Indianapolis, where he was fun and lively, especially as an auctioneer; I bought some type from him, later we shared our anger at getting skinned by the same guy. We exchanged notes on occasion, always with extra stamps on his letters and unusual offerings in his lists. He represented the best of printing as a hobby and of friendship, and will be missed. R.I.P., Dave, but please not in the “hell box” !

Dave was GREAT and a unique individual. One minor consolation is that he was captured “dickin’ around” with his type last year for the upcoming letterpress documentary Pressing On. Maybe a part of this year’s APA Wayzgoose in St. Louis could be devoted to sharing Dave Churchman stories. I can’t imagine that there aren’t tons of good ones out there.

When Bill McGarry died years ago, Chuck Wendel and I were contacted by the family to help them disperse his printing holdings. We decided on having an auction, with NO prior sales - so that everything got to the auction and the cream was not siphoned off of the top. Everyone got a fair shot at it.

Bill had a very large family and many of his children expressed reluctance to attend the auction because they thought it would be sad and didn’t know if they could take it emotionally. I talked them all into it, telling them that it would be more of a celebration of Bill’s life and that they would probably hear more “Bill McGarry stories” that they knew nothing about.

When it was all over, the auction had exceeded our expectations and ALL of his family where so glad that they had come. Yes, it was very emotional, but there was so much love and great stories about their Dad that it was something truly special.


If anyone is interested, his obit was in the Indianapolis Star this morning. It’s a reflection of the man! He was kind and helpful to me even before I was fortunate to relocate to the same city. My visits to the “Boutique de Junque” were fun and challenging at the same time and I usually came home with a treasure or two. He will be missed.


I received word of Dave’s death while I was still on Christmas break and it has saddened me greatly. He was a really fine person who knew his stuff and enjoyed life. A real letter from him was always a treat as he covered the envelope with stamps from as far back as the 1930s/40s, all still good. It would take as many as 20 stamps to add up to today’s postage. As a fellow printing supply/equipment dealer, we had many exchanges about supplies, and the occasional check in about a bad customer. He was always a treat to see in action at one of the ATF conferences. With Charlene as the wife and team member, they made a memorable pair. I visited his home one time some years back and it was full of letterpress stuff, from the basement shop to a garage turned into type storage—even the dining room table was being used to font some new type. He will be missed.

Dave Churchman was a long distance friend, drawn by membership in this fraternity and sorority of the printed word. I have been passionate about his kind of printing these many years. Living as I have for a lifetime in central Georgia I never met Dave nor had the singular delight of visiting him in Indianapolis, but by telephone and by mail he was a prince of a friend.
I received his equipment sales list at a very young age and studied his descriptions thoroughly. The occasional circular had an attractive personality that must have reflected the unique man he was.
Most recently (in 2012)I contacted him for guidance on a large Colts Armory press I had located and wanted to buy from a private owner. He was instantly interested and full of helpful advice by phone and by letter. He would followup with letters inquiring as to the progress of my Colts Armory project and the logistics of the shipping of the press back from NYC.
He enjoyed telling me about his son Curt’s press restoration work. Seemed very proud and admiring of it. He spoke with great love of his wife and of his family.
We talked about the premature death of our 33 year old son in 2011. Our son had given yeoman service in leading the fork lifting of machinery and helping me extensively to rearrange our floor. Dave’s spoken and written words of comfort were deeply and generously solicitous.
I realized then what a great and loving soul he possessed and felt the strongest regret that we had never met and sat across from one another with what might have been unforgettable talk of two traditional printers-one the wiser and I his awed student. The loss is mine entirely.
The Briar Press discussion site seems to gather a friendly array of custodians of the lettered word in the English speaking world: the technician, the practitioner, even the philosopher, the historian and the raconteur, sometimes dry and sometimes emotive, usually in excellent language, always sharply eager and bearing the gift of an importantly profound knowledge of the craft. I wouldn’t change its parameters: always serious fun. In my opinion, Mr. Dave Churchman was just the right balance, the ideal touch of these valuable qualities.
How movingly sad to receive the news on the first day of the new year of his late December passing.
Americus, Georgia

Dave Churchman was a great friend to Mike and he and Charlene stayed in contact with me after Mike’s death. This is another sad loss for the printing community. SKA

Quite by accident I came across this fairly recent video featuring Dave Churchman and fellow printer and friend Dave Peat:


They have a series of these entitled “Dickin’around with the Daves” and they are beautiful looks at these two guys who so thoroughly enjoy letterpress. If you never got to see either of the Daves in action, you’ll know how much we miss Dave Churchman and how fortunate that Dave Peat is still with us. I last saw Peat at the Ladies of Letterpress event this past summer in Iowa.

My wife and I were cleaning out some drawers and found these prints made by Dave. He was always willing to help with our newbie problems and made us laugh every time we went to visit. He will be missed.

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