David W. Teske, 1963

Fall 2017 (August 31, 2017)

David W. Teske of Manchester, Iowa, died Feb. 7, 2016, age 75. David was born on Sept. 5, 1940, in Manchester, the son of Reuben and Ella Teske. He died at the Manchester Good Neighbor Home. He graduated from Manchester High School in 1959. In 1963 he graduated from Luther College in Decorah with a degree in speech. He was a member of the Luther touring choir.

David’s life was full of richness and amazing accomplishments. In 1963 he moved to New York City for three years. He was the morning announcer for classical music at station WBAI. Through Hayden’s Planetarium he produced the radio program Arm Chair Astronomy that played twice a week for two years, was broadcast on all Pacifica Stations, and was noted weekly in the New York Times. He worked with CBS filming construction of the Kodak Pavilion at the World’s Fair.

In 1966 he went to Los Angeles where, as a stagehand, he delivered scripts to TV and radio programs and movie sets. Then in San Francisco, he produced an astronomy program that was broadcast to the Armed Forces Radio worldwide. There he participated in a number of Renaissance Fairs and began selling the star maps that he created.

In 1970 David returned to Manchester. He continued refining his maps of all stars visible to the naked eye, because, he said, “I want to preserve the wonder of my childhood sky.” He considered his maps special because they could be viewed from any geographical area, and “We can look up and see the same sky with the same stars as a person did one hundred years ago.” He made the first maps by hand, and eventually produced computer-generated ones at the University of California (Berkeley). The most published star mapper on file at the Library of Congress, David created eight different star maps, including the compact “Handy Heavens” and “Renaissance” with information on astronomy during that era. “Original Size” was an award winner in a design competition sponsored by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. The National Cartographic Center described his maps as the “most accurate and artistic star maps ever.” He knew the names of the 8,602 stars, their origin, number and constellation. Navigators, stargazers, planetariums, astronomers, and universities have purchased his maps. His maps were used in the movie “Star Gate.”

David always recalled with feeling the star maps he made for the blind. Using upholstery tacks to represent stars and fishing line to join constellations with a moveable T-square to guide, he added grids and explanations in Braille. He donated two of these maps to the Iowa Braille and Sight School in Vinton where he also lectured. One of his favorite memories was a young girl at the school who felt the Big Dipper on his map and said, “Now I see stars!” Additionally, he donated tactile star maps to Aspen, Colorado’s program for blind skiers and an institute for the blind in Pennsylvania.

His other sources of joy included years of talking on his ham radio with worldwide friends, traveling for ten years to wherever there was a complete solar eclipse, recording radio and TV programs, listening to music, and riding his bike. He will be remembered as a gentle soul who “now lives among the stars.”

He is survived by his sister Diane Drake, her daughter Carolyn Radda and husband Steven, their children (Alyssa, Jonathan, Sterling, Ethan, and Henry), and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, a niece, and a nephew.

A graveside service with committal of his ashes followed in the spring of 2016.

David W. Teske