I was saddened to learn last week of the death of David Freschman to pancreatic cancer. David was a friend to many in the venture community and was one of the pioneers of venture capital in Delaware and in the Mid-Atlantic region.
As the founder and continual sponsor of Early Stage East, an important regional venture event, David used his force of personality to push this region and its entrepreneurial and venture ecosystem to where it is today even though at times he must have felt he was pushing a stubborn mule from behind. In recent years, other people and organizations, spurred on by David’s efforts to prove the viability of the entrepreneurial community, bypassed the stature of Early Stage East, yet David still ran the conference while reveling in all the other parts of the ecosystem which were finally kicking into gear. We all kept coming to the conference because David innovated and kept it interesting and also because none of us wanted to disappoint David.
David was a kind and good man. We lost him too early. Fifty-two is far too young, but David sure did not waste a moment of it. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone and he always had genuine smile, making anyone he welcomed feel like he or she was the most important person he had seen all day. When I first came into venture eight years ago, others made me feel like an outsider to a tight and closed community. David made me feel like a welcome addition. Thanks David.
I first heard that David was sick a couple weeks ago. We sat on a board together and he dialed into the meeting and we were all told what was happening and why he wasn’t there. On the phone he was the same old David. Nothing was dragging him down.
My lasting memory of David is also the last time I saw him. He was moderating a venture panel in an obscure club near Grammercy Park in New York, and somehow the panel of five he had prepared for became a panel of eight without anyone telling him. For some this would have ruined their flow and their prepared conversation. For David it was just more the merrier; if five investors were a good panel then eight made a great one. He smiled broadly, made the extra three feel welcome, let the audience know how lucky they were and then moderated the best panel I have been on in years. That was David as we all knew and valued him.
David we will all miss you. Thanks for all you did for the region and for Philly. Thank you especially from all of us who were warmed and welcomed by your smile.