Reflections: David Humke

Kenji Hobbs

12 January 2022

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Reflections: David Humke

Chateau Retirement’s “Reflections” series highlights the rich life experiences of our residents. This month, David Humke tells the fascinating story of his life and career.



I was born in San Diego, California. My father, Dr. Kenneth Robert Humke was in the Navy and never served at sea. I have one brother, Kenneth Richard, five years younger.



When I was 6 months old our family moved to Guam where we spent four years. From Guam we went to California and then to Wisconsin. My father was a military doctor and after his military service we moved to the small town of Chilton, Wisconsin where my father set up his medical practice. His family was German, from Frankfurt and Chilton was predominantly a German community.



I started elementary school and completed high school in Wisconsin. I played several different positions on the football team and lettered my 1st, 3rd and 4th years. Wisconsin was a great place to enjoy winter activities such as skiing, tobogganing and ice fishing.  We ice fished for walleye, trout and sturgeon on Lake Winnebago, about seven miles from our house.


The biggest sturgeon I ever caught was 200 pounds. We also went trout fishing in Green Lake close to our home and Trout Lake, a little further away. The lakes were where our family gathered in the summer and where we could be found waterskiing, camping, hiking and fishing. We had extended family in the area and New Years in particular, was always a big family affair, 35-40 of us gathering to usher in the New Year. The family also loved football and could be found in front of the TV watching a game or could be found in the stands for the Packers games as we were season ticket holders.



I attended college for a year and a half, enlisted in the Navy, attended boot camp in the Great Lakes area, and then shipped to Pensacola for communications training. After training I was an E-5 Security Communications Specialist, stationed in Pensacola, Florida. The work was highly classified, top secret crypto intelligence communications. During the Vietnam War I was stationed in Hawaii for two years working as a ditty operator, catching and transmitting information to designated sources. It was in Hawaii that I met my future wife, Sue.



After four years in the military, I went to the U of Wisconsin and got my degree in Radiology and moved to Ft. Pierce, Florida where I was an x-ray tech. To this day I hear, “Take a deep breath and hold it.” I said it so many times I will never forget it.



Sue and I were married and started our family. Justin and Janelle were both born in Florida. In 1980 we moved to Washington state where Sue had family and I had a job offer. We packed up the station wagon and towed our Mazda with the cat in it for an adventurous trip across the country, complete with the cat running around the Mazda and the whole family getting sick.



While we had never spent much time in the Pacific Northwest, we had visited my mother’s parents who lived in Shelton. Justin and Janelle grew and became competitive swimmers which took up a great deal of our time as they were in the pool six hours a day. I worked for UW Medical Center and then Group Health as an x-ray tech.



In 2010 I had a stroke while sitting at the Spaghetti Factory having dinner with my family. As my son Justin tells it, I started acting strange and having some problems with my legs and then my face started drooping. An ambulance was called, and I was taken to the hospital. I was treated and cared for at the hospital followed by rehab and not expected to walk or talk again. I could not read nor write, nor could I remember people in my life and eventually semi-retirement led to retirement. It was a huge adjustment, like being reborn.



My days were spent in physical and speech therapy learning to walk and talk. Creative boards were used to stimulate my brain and slowly, slowly I got better and better. I started to walk. I started to talk. I gradually remembered my family. The journey from stroke to recovery was challenging and while my daily activities are mostly normal, I still am unable to read.



For a period of time I lived in a group family home but found the lack of activity and freedom too restrictive. With the help of my family, I looked at a variety of retirement communities and decided on Chateau, specifically choosing an apartment that had a deck. Before my stroke, gardening was one of my hobbies and I had big plans for that deck. Today the deck is my happy place, filled with a variety of plants and color. It is a fun activity and one of the things I can do, so I do it. Every spring I live in anticipation of the renewal and rebirth that takes place on my balcony and am reminded of the renewal and rebirth that took place in my life.



Chateau Retirement Communities are based in the Seattle, WA area. Chateau Retirement offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care living options. Contact us today to learn more about our family owned and operated communities, or schedule a tour.