FALLING WATERS, W.Va.—David “Dave” Brechbill was the model for a healthy lifestyle, said Renee Brechbill, his wife of 23 years.
An exercise enthusiast, he made running and working out with weights a priority, along with healthy eating.
The “gentle giant” stood 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds.
“There was not an ounce of fat on him,” Renee said. “He was the picture of health.”
On the evening of Monday, April 2, Dave had returned from a run, packed his lunch for the next workday and had just taken a shower when he collapsed. Renee found him within 15 minutes, called 911 and started CPR, but by the time the ambulance arrived, she said it was too late.
Dave’s cause of death will remain a mystery because the state of West Virginia will not conduct an autopsy since there was no foul play. Renee said the cost for a private autopsy would exceed $5,000, so she’s not going to have one done.
Still, she can’t imagine what caused her husband’s untimely death, and said there is no family medical history that they were concerned about. It had been at least three years since Dave had been to the doctor, but he didn’t see any reason to go if he wasn’t sick, Renee said.
“He was the poster child for healthy living,” Renee said. “He did everything right. He didn’t know what it felt like to have a headache or indigestion.”
Dave was born in Hagerstown and raised in Smithsburg. He died about two weeks before his April 17 birthday.
The 1975 Smithsburg High School graduate went on to earn an associate degree in mechanical engineering from Hagerstown Junior College.
It was in 1978, while working at Zayre Department Store on Dual Highway in Hagerstown, that he met Renee.
She and her first husband had a son and daughter — Allen Arrington lives in Chesterfield, Mich., and Tammi Staley lives in Hagerstown — but that marriage already had ended. There are four grandchildren.
Dave was in a bad relationship and Renee was a supportive friend throughout. Despite a 12-year age difference, they found common ground and started dating, although it took about a year of dating before they told co-workers. They dated for eight years before getting married.
“I was the original cougar when it wasn’t popular,” Renee said. “He was the oldest young man I ever met. We just clicked.”
She added that despite his maturity and financial stability at a young age, Dave still liked to have fun. He had a very calm temperament, though, and Renee can only recall him getting angry twice in the 31 years she knew him.
If there was an argument to be made, Dave deferred to Renee, whose career in customer service helped her in that area.
“He didn’t argue or fight. He was so positive. He was so even-kiltered,” Renee said. “He didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. He always brought peace and calmness to every situation.”
Following Zayre, Dave worked at Grove Manufacturing, Jerr-Dan Corp. and Pangborn Corp., before landing a job three years ago at Newell Rubbermaid in Winchester, Va., where he was supervisor of technical support, working in quality control.
“A co-worker at the viewing said Dave was the go-to guy and his presence is already missed,” Renee said.