It was a precocious little 4 year old girl that introduced me to David Foltz. Sandora (it’s French, pronounced Shandorah), would wander into MPA Architecture, the architecture office I worked for at the time, and sit down next to me and start drawing, coloring and humming an imaginary tune, while I worked on the latest building I was assigned to.
The scene was a Live/Work Loft building on 12th & J Street downtown, and because Sandora didn’t have a yard or friends, the people that worked in the building were her friends. The 4 year old was confident, and would visit my friends, Chris and Tanya while they worked on websites, and she’d visit the Cafe Moto coffee roasters.
Sandora called me Papa William, and when I met her Papa David, and Mama Dona, I fell in love with the whole family. The loft they occupied, was right next door to MPA, and I’d come and hang out and chat with David and Dona after work, and see what was happening. Often times, I’d be invited to stay for dinner. We’d talk for hours. David was working for AOL or Yahoo or some big tech giant at the time. He was incredibly intelligent, bright and full of passion for his work, as well as his life. Dona and Sandora were a gift to him. An instant family, so to speak. I don’t recall the details of how Dona and David met, but Sandora was born to a different father in France. And David took her in without hesitation.
That instant family meant everything to him. I witnessed him literally defending them, without regard for his own life (or embarrassment).
I was working one weekend, and walking through the hallway, when his door flies open, and a trespassing homeless man, (who had wandered in the house catching the family unaware – and David in the shower), comes flying out, chased by a naked and sopping wet David Foltz. Slipping and sliding around on the Saltillo tiled hallway floor, he caught up to this homeless man at the end of the hallway, tackled him, forced him down, and ran back in to call the cops.
This is the man David Foltz is. His family was everything.
And when that family was about to welcome another, the little angel Roxanne, curled up in the blankets in the picture above, they decided to move out from the lofts and find a real house where Sandora and Roxanne could grow up and play.
They moved to a beautiful Spanish style house in Kensington, and I moved into their old loft. Sandora’s old room became my darkroom. David sold me the built in furniture that worked so well on the mezzanine.
I photographed them a couple times. The shot below is a poor scan. But taken while Dona was pregnant with Roxanne. And again after Roxanne came into the world. I was using my big 4×5 camera at the time. And for the shot above, I’m literally outside the window, perched on their roof with my tripod and a big camera looking in. As Roxanne cooed, David, Dona, and Sandora all giggled as I made sure I got the shot, without falling off the roof.
It would be a few years before we saw each other again. I moved to Thailand, and landed in Austin for a few years. It might have been 2011, or ’12 before I went and saw them again. Dona had agreed to do a new logo for me (the same one I still use on this website), and we planned to catch up at their new house.
Sandora was growing up into an amazing young woman, maybe just starting high school. Her accent was gone. So was my Papa William moniker. Baby Roxanne was turning into a little beanstalk, she got David’s height for sure. David and Dona were still as happy as ever. It filled my heart to see such an incredibly close family.
As life does, it happens; and we drifted apart. Always tied to each other of course, but taking care of our own lives.
Then yesterday, I saw a rare post from Dona on Facebook. I read in disbelief that David passed a couple days prior. Dumbstruck doesn’t begin to approach how I felt (or still feel). Reaching out to Dona’s sister, it was revealed that he took his own life, the cause; depression.
Depression is a cruel thing, a hijacking thing. That wasn’t David that took his life. That was a cruel, and hijacked mind that took him away from us. I’ve looked into that man’s eyes. It breaks my heart that this has happened.
For me David will always be that strong man. The man that would protect Dona, Sandora, and Roxanne at all cost. He will always be that bright, funny man, talking about new tech gadgets or the time he did a week long banana fast and pooped nothing but banana puree. And he’ll always be family.
Rest in peace David. You will be missed more than you know.
It’s been revealed that there was nothing set in place for Dona and the girls upon David’s death. I don’t know the details or why it came to that. But it turns out that the family has been left without life insurance or even savings. Again, I don’t know details other than the girls need immediate financial help.
If you would, please take the time to contribute to their immediate needs at GoFundMe. Dona is resourceful, and she will do what it takes, but her world has been rocked right now, and just needs a little runway to help navigate the fog. Even $5 or $10 would help. It all adds up.
Also published on Medium.