Dave Appel


David W. Appel of Antigo, Wisconsin, died May 12, 2017 at the age of 92. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Julia Appel, one brother, three children and their spouses, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His obituary may be found here.

Dave’s first volunteer involvement with ATC was in 1997, when he worked in the visitor center at ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry for about 5 weeks straight. He was excellent at greeting and assisting visitors, but preferred working with his hands and being outdoors. The following year, at the age of 73, Dave began volunteering his summers at the Bears Den Trail Center on the Appalachian Trail in northern Virginia, which is owned by ATC and managed by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

The painting of Dave depicted at left is by Penny Hauffe. It hangs in a place of honor at Bears Den.


Dave and I quickly became friends as we worked together as volunteers at the Bears Den Trail Center annually for about 12 years. Dave was a great recruiter, motivator, and teacher of volunteers. He led a variety of volunteer projects at the center, such as reworking the interior walls and ceilings; replacing more than thirty old windows; building wooden bunks for the dormitories; restoring the unused, dilapidated cottage to usefulness; building a tool storage building, a gazebo, and three outdoor privies; felling dead and otherwise hazardous trees; splitting firewood; and maintaining the gravel entrance road and parking lots.

Often hikers suspended their hikes a day or more to participate in his projects. He was wonderful in reaching out to neighbors who lived in the vicinity of Bears Den, engaging them as volunteers in various projects, and in turn providing assistance to those neighbors who needed occasional help around their homes. He was a great inspiration to hikers and other guests.

Dave always assisted anyone who needed help, and often prepared meals which he shared with all comers. After eating together and washing the dishes, we often engaged in impromptu group sing-alongs. On other occasions Dave took it upon himself to carefully organize, plan, and promote the group meals and singings. And, of great importance, Dave was the major financial supporter of the Bears Den Trail Center throughout all his years of volunteer work.

— John Killam
Longtime ATC and Bears Den volunteer