David Roderer's Story

An Early Career in the Navy

The holidays are always a busy time for David Roderer’s family. With his birthday on Christmas day, his wedding anniversary just two days later, and rich family Christmas and New Year’s traditions, there’s always something going on. He never gets slighted on Christmas; there are always birthday gifts and a cake to celebrate his special day. 

David grew up in Dayton, Ohio, the sixth of seven children. As an altar boy at church he dutifully assisted the clergy, but as soon as mass ended, he ran down the street to his favorite donut shop for a fresh chocolate donut. Everyone in town knew him because his family owned a chain of shoe stores. He did not follow in the family business, because he was focused on one thing – joining the Navy. Throughout his childhood, he maintained notebooks full of photographs of Naval ships, and he read everything he could about Naval history. At 17, he left Ohio and made his lifelong dream come true. He spent four years as a “kiddie cruiser” -- a type of service beginning before a sailor’s 18th birthday and ending when they turn 21 -- traveling the world before he was even old enough to vote. He worked on radar communications, was stationed on both U.S. coasts, and saw much of the world, including Vietnam. He wanted to captain a Naval ship but was disappointed to discover his eyesight wasn’t good enough.

A Successful Marriage and a Successful Career

He came home and studied political science at the University of Dayton and worked as a keypunch operator in its Research Institute. Keypunchers used data entry machines to punch holes that corresponded with certain information into cards. The work was tedious, so David made the task more pleasant for his workmates by reading aloud from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The best thing about the job was meeting his future wife, Nancy, who is from a Chicago suburb called Elmhurst. They moved to the Washington, D.C. area where David went to law school at George Washington University and Nancy got a master’s degree in information science from the University of Maryland. She had a lengthy career as a researcher and educator and David became a successful banking lawyer. One of the highlights of his career was developing legislation in the early 1980’s that facilitated the return of depression era unclaimed property -- money in checking or savings accounts, uncashed payroll checks, certificates of deposit (CDs) and contents of safe deposit boxes – to family heirs.

Creating and Capturing Memories

When they weren’t busy working and raising their family, David and Nancy could be found sailing the Chesapeake Bay on a sailboat they co-anchored out of Solomons Island with friends. They also loved to travel. One of their favorite trips was to Hawaii. They stayed on a waterfront property in Maui in the early 2000s and were amazed to hear whales singing just outside their door. They also explored many regions throughout China and global historical sites such as Petra in Jordan. These world travels combined David’s love of history with his passion for photography, and he often captured the essence and beauty of these places in his photos. He also photographed carousels around the world, including the historic Dentzel Carousel in Glen Echo Park in Maryland.

Later Years with Family

The couple has two children. Their son David is married and lives in Silver Spring with his own children: Nate, David (Alex), and Tom; their daughter Anne is an architect in Seattle. They also have 29 nieces and nephews. In the spring and summer, David and Nancy can be found outside in the garden at Knollwood. Nancy loves lilacs and they planted some there. The winter season is busy with family visiting. Last year, two days after Christmas, the couple enjoyed their 50th wedding anniversary together at Knollwood.