Tribute to David Warkentin
It is with much sadness that I write to acknowledge the death of David Warkentin on September 9, 2010. He passed away peacefully at his home in the forested hills of Nicasio, California, attended by his partner Vajra Matusow and many close friends who cared for him tenderly through his last days. He had no inkling of illness until early July and survived barely two months from the time of his diagnosis. It was stunning to see such a rich and complex life extinguished so rapidly. How we will miss him!
David Kent Warkentin was born in Atherton, California on August 20, 1951. We can only imagine the dawning happiness when as a young homeopath David realized that his very birth name contained the heart of homeopathy in it. J. T. Kent was one of David’s great heroes as reflected in the name he christened his ground-breaking software company: Kent Homeopathic Associates or KHA.
After studying computer science and electrical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, David followed his diversified interests with great passion before finding homeopathy. He became an expert river guide, he led wildlife kayaking tours in remote areas of Alaska and Mexico. He was a fantastic outdoorsman, finding renewal in nature. David made hundreds of whitewater rafting trips including nearly a dozen trips down the dangerous Colorado River. In fact his only expressed regret concerning his illness was that he was unable to make a planned trip down through the Grand Canyon this summer. Even after brain surgery, he still held some glimmer of hope that he would be able to make the trip! Many of my most treasured memories are of the various nature trips to which David invited Nancy and me -- to raft or kayak amongst grey whales, sea otters, glaciers and desserts. Though these trips often had their harrowing moments -- such as the time a grey whale swamped Michael Quinn’s kayak forcing Nancy and me to ferry the largest hood ornament ever conceived (ie Michael) back 2 miles to shore on the front of our kayak. But these mishaps became over the years the most cherished of family stories – it is often the flaw that makes the diamond most unique.
I met David in Athens, Greece when I attended the first international seminar given by George Vithoulkas in 1978. At that time, still in medical school, I had never laid eyes upon an actual homeopath. David took me under his wing and we immediately became friends and travel mates. I remember his dry and cutting wit balanced by the gentlest of spirits. At that time, David was already a practicing homeopath of high reputation, working in an office with Bill Gray, Nancy Herrick and Peggy Chipkin as a lay prescriber. David attended the month long Esalen seminar given by George Vithoulkas in 1980. While there together, his only flaw as a roommate was that he had an unerring ability to ferret out the stash of chocolate that George Guess tried to hide from him in our joint room. And of course at 6’4” (1.94 meters) he also had a killer spike in our Esalen group volleyball games – I remember Karl Robinson was the victim of a particularly wicked one.
In the early 1980’s David decided that gaining a credential would increase his effectiveness as a force for the spread of homeopathy. He earned his degree as a Physician Assistant from the University of California at Davis following his friends Christine Ciavarella and Nancy Herrick in the program. He revered many his many teachers especially George Vithoulkas, Francisco Eisayaga, Bill Gray, Rajan Sankaran and his dearest friend, Massimo Mangialavori.
In 1985, David was one of the cofounders of the Hahnemann Medical Clinic in Berkeley and one of the first instructors at the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy where he taught until the college closed in 2004. David continued to teach at almost every educational forum in America and in Europe and Asia. David’s practice of homeopathy was side-tracked in the mid-1990’s due to the increasing responsibilities with KHA, but in 2006 he began to practice again. He told me that his clinical results had reached their highest level in this year and he remained as excited by the miracle of homeopathy as he was when I first met him.
David began his great and seminal work with homeopathic software in 1986 with his program MacRepertory. Originally designed for use solely on the Apple computer, David introduced the many purist, nature-oriented, vegetarian, California homeopaths into the world of technology. I remember the first computer David convinced me to buy was the second generation of Apple computers. He told me to buy an external hard drive with an astounding 20 megabyte capacity because “You’ll never need more storage than that!”
KHA has remained on the cutting edge of homeopathic software ever since. Many people in competing firms have acknowledged that David was the engine that drove the nearly frantic development of homeopathic software. His innovative spirit, drive for excellence and desire to help make homeopathy accessible and rapid kept him in dialogue with the finest teachers in our profession, always willing to learn and to adapt the program to the needs and ideas of the profession. For many of us, David’s encouragement and willingness to support our work with his technology made our work possible. My own investigation of Carbon remedies would have been impossible without David’s help and I know many others feel the same way.
Luckily for KHA, the core staff continues to market, service and support the KHA programs without a hitch. Furthermore, a strong group of homeopathic leaders including Nancy Herrick, Jan Scholten, Anne Schadde, Massimo Mangialavori and Rajan Sankaran will be joining me on an advisory committee to help ensure the integrity of the programs. We assure the profession that the same high standards and openness to the needs of prescribers will be maintained.
But of course we will no longer have David traveling to practically every seminar and conference in the world. Though incredibly shy, David loved exchanging ideas and information with people. His reclusive urges were overcome by his profound wish to facilitate the spread of knowledge and ideas. For example, David served for many years on the board of directors of the National Center for Homeopathy with Todd Rowe, Joyce Frye, Jay Borneman and Julian Winston. Our shy David was paradoxically one of the best story tellers I ever met and used humor to help connect people from various factions of homeopathy. Perhaps this role as facilitator more than anything else led to David being awarded the Henry N Williams Professional Service award and to his receiving an honorary doctorate from the British Institute of Homeopathy.
David died from a very aggressive malignant melanoma having a dozen cerebral tumors at the time he first became symptomatic. His primary tumor was hidden in his pelvis unnoticed. I mention this because David would want to help others even in his death. There is a well-documented link between electromagnetic frequencies produced by cell phone and other technologies and melanoma. David’s computer sat in his lap (immediately above the location of his primary tumor) perhaps 12 hours per day (except when river rafting and maybe even then!) hooked up to a cell phone receiver. Let us use this as a caution to be wary of allopathic assurances that these technologies are harmless. In David’s name, tell your friends and patients!
David was a loving friend. He gave his heart to many and was loved in return. There has been a tremendous out-pouring of love and sympathy from every corner of the globe by which David was profoundly touched and he asked us to tell everyone how much he appreciated these messages. David was deeply concerned with spiritual matters, read widely and participated in many meditation retreats and worked with spiritual teachers from many traditions. He had a great thirst for deeper meaning and realization. One of David’s most cherished moments was a private interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama whom he met with his dear friend Melissa Fairbanks. David will be remembered for his gentle spirit, his devotion to our profession and his innovative genius. The loss to our profession is as incalculable as it is painful to those of us who loved him.
There will be a memorial service commemorating David and his love for homeopathy on November 5th in Corte Madera at Corte Madera Inn from 7:30 to 10:00pm.
time I met David Warkentin was at the Irish Conference of Homeopathy in 1998 in
the city of Galway in the west of Ireland. I was a final year student at the Burren School of Homeopathy, run by the
visionary homeopath, Nuala Eising. It was customary for a group of final
year students of the Burren
School to organize and
run an international conference of homeopaths for homeopaths. It was late June,
the sun was shining, and over 150 homeopaths and students were gathered to
attend the Fifth Irish Conference.
We had arranged for some well-known, masterful homeopaths to speak at our conference including Dr. Dick Moskowitz from the USA, the wonderful German homeopath, Anne Schadde, who presented her proving on Ozone, Dr. Chaim Rosenthal from Israel, Dr. Nandita Shah from India, as well as the great Dutch homeopath and doctor, Jan Scholten, who presented the remedy Shamrock to a delighted Irish audience. As students we were honoured that David Warkentin–the mastermind of MacRep–was among the homeopaths attending the conference. As creator, developer and CEO of Kent Homeopathic Associates, he hosted a training morning at the start of the conference demonstrating his inspiring and innovative programs.
In his blue Hawaiian shirt and sandals, David was a breath of fresh air to an Irish and European audience of homeopaths. With his easy manner and ready smile, he had that California state of mind. His tall, quiet grace and openness invited connection. Homeopaths remember at conferences that David attended–and there were probably hundreds of them that he was present at down through the years–that he was charming, sympathetic and, perhaps most of all, obliging. He spoke kindly whenever spoken to, but remained relatively reticent otherwise. He loved to hear that people used, or even better, loved his programs. His blue eyes would focus on you and widen and he’d listen either to your praise or your question with equal attention.
David was born and lived all his life in California, loving and expressing his experiences of the beauty of the natural world though wildlife adventure, especially white water rafting, photography, and poetry. Everyone who knew him learned about his rafting down the great Colorado River and saw the photographs of his head nearly submerged under white water. David is credited with inspiring a revolution in modern thinking and analysis of homeopathy through his creation of MacRepertory and ReferenceWorks. His talents in computer science at Berkeley married well with his love for homeopathy and it is no wonder that his company, Kent Homeopathic Associates, is a leader in the field of homeopathic software.
Homeopaths across the globe credit David with enabling them to advance their study of homeopathy and case-taking and case-analysis because of his programs. His life’s work for the past 25 years has been to incorporate into his software the entirety of homeopathic literature from Hahenmann to modern work by masters such as Rajan Sankaran, Jan Scholten, and Massimo Mangialavori and others. Many new provings and remedies are accessible to homeopaths because of David’s dedication and genius. His ‘family analysis’ tools within MacRep and Reference Works enable homeopaths to discover remedies for their patients using the newest concepts from Sankaran and Scholten and others at the cutting-edge of homeopathic thinking. David kept pace with all of them.
I remember sitting beside him at Jan Scholten’s Dublin 2009 seminar and David working on notes that he was taking on Jan’s talk. Jan was describing the evolution of the 18 stages of the periodic table in a sort of allegory of life. Later than night he was already scheduling them into the next updates. David and his Mac were inseparable. He worked late into the night inserting new images, in this instance, a poppy, into his charts. He was a whizz at all things Mac. We surfed the net for a poppy image and then David completed the image by drawing, using his skills on PhotoShop. And just like that, it was done, and ready for the next version of the programs. One of the great features of David’s programs is his creative use of visuals to illustrate homeopathic analyses. But how many know how late into the night David was working? The last time I saw David was in Prague in late January in 2010. Still in his Hawaiian shirt and lightweight jacket, and the funny-looking “fivefingers” shoes he was so proud of, we walked along the wild Vltava River on our way to attend his great friend Massimo Mangialavori’s seminar on Primulacea. David made friends wherever he went and many homeopaths felt endeared to him, but Massimo was one of his favourites.
David often said he was shy but in front of an audience of students eager to understand how to use his programs he was lively and engaging. After attending global seminars or teaching workshops worldwide he would return to his home in California to recoup his energies and work steadily on his own in the quiet, beautiful hills of Marin County. He stayed in touch with everyone, however, and never failed to respond to emails. If his emailed answers to my emailed questions are anything to go by, I suspect he never let an email go unanswered. As the press release from Kent Homeopathic Associates notes, “He was like a gentle giant whose sweet smile and wonderful nature illuminated like a great beacon to so many who had the blessing to have known and loved him.”
I was just a satellite in David’s great orbit but I am grateful to him for accepting me so readily and openly into his KHA family, inspiring me to continue learning, and for trusting me with representing his life’s work in Ireland.
One of David’s favourite poems by Mary Oliver:
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The mantra of Compassion "Om Mani Padme Hum" in Tibetan script
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