David W. Pray
David Wayne Pray, 75, Stevens Point, died Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, at the House of the Dove Hospice, Marshfield.
He was born Sept. 4, 1942, in Muskegon, Mich., son of the late Genevieve Ella (Erickson) and David Wirt Pray. He grew up in Whitehall, Mich., where he completed his education through high school, developing a lifelong passion for mathematics. He earned both bachelors and master’s degrees in mathematics from Michigan Technological University.
Later, after moving to Wausau and joining the staff of Wausau Insurance, he became a fellow in the American Academy of Actuaries and retired from his 32 year career with the firm as Vice President and Actuary of the Wausau Life Insurance Company.
During this time, he was married to Penny Nickel; they divorced in 1976, and she preceded him in death.
In 1981, he was married to Pauline Merry Phillips and moved to Stevens Point.
He taught for 8 1/2 years at Michigan Technological University (MTU), where he helped start the actuarial science program. He found joy in teaching mathematics, and was honored as an outstanding teacher of undergraduates.
After retiring from MTU, he became a frequent presenter on a wide variety of mathematical subjects in LIFE programs at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP). Besides being a longtime member of the Mathematical Association of America, he was also part of the Audubon Society’s research in Wisconsin into bluebird restoration, walking seven miles to monitor bluebird nesting boxes along the Green Circle Trail.
Travel with a purpose with Earthwatch and Road Scholars found him an active participant in paleontological digs, and horse riding holidays, studying overseas and frequenting art museums and concerts.
He loved reading books, including ebooks, and was often seen with a notebook and pencil jotting equations. He wrote poetry and enjoyed music, and participated in Friday afternoon discussions with retired UWSP philosophers. He was also proud of celebrating his more than 20 years of sobriety as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
He also enjoyed participating in the local community theater as an actor and wrote and directed children’s plays.
Survivors include his wife, Pauline Merry Pray, Stevens Point; his daughters with his first wife, Erin (Devlin) Verley, Wausau, and Jennifer Pray, Minneapolis, Minn.; two grandchildren, Devlin Verley, Jr. and Madeline Pernecke; and nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
He was preceded in death by one brother, Jack; and one sister, Linda Pray Smith.
Memorials may be made to the MTU Mathematics Department in his memory through the Michigan Tech Fund.
A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at Boston Funeral Home. Visitation was prior to services at the funeral home. Interment was held in Forest Cemetery, Stevens Point.