In loving memory: Dr. David Lertzman

Dr. David Lertzman, Obituary

(May 2021) – It is with great sorrow the Lertzman Family announces the tragic and sudden loss of Dr. David Lertzman, age 59, on May 5, 2021. David Lertzman lost his life in an encounter with a Grizzly bear while out on his twice-daily run along a trail in the village of Waiparous, Alberta.

Dr. David Lertzman OBM

A well-known and well-beloved professor in the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, Dr. Lertzman’s research had a focus on sustainable economic development and leadership with indigenous peoples. His most recent work was dedicated to better understanding and improving the social, ecological, and cross-cultural performance of the Indigenous community and energy sector. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses on leadership and sustainable development with Indigenous Elders, and ran wilderness (nature) retreat courses in Kananaskis.

“He was really a beautiful, unique, marvelous human being,” said Jim Dewald, dean of the U of C’s Haskayne School of Business. “Professors will spend their entire career in the hopes that one day a student or graduate will come and say, ‘what you taught me changed my life.’ That happened every single time he ran his course.”

Born in Winnipeg, David’s love for the outdoors began with backpacking vacations with his family during their10 year stay in the San Francisco Bay Area where David attended elementary school. A precocious, enthusiastic and gifted child, he returned with his family to Winnipeg, where he attended high school, followed by graduating from the University of Manitoba with a degree in political science and a minor in World Religions.

Dr. Lertzman’s sense of social and political justice led him to a Masters in Political Economy from York University and a PhD in Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia. Later he joined the Rediscovery International team, where he worked with Indigenous youth for 25 years. David had a special gift for languages (including Indigenous languages) and music, playing the drum, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, flutes, blues harmonica and composed songs that will continue to be sung around the campfire by communities in many parts of North America.

David is survived by his wife, Sarah Lertzman and two small children, Glen (age 9) and Mela (age 5), father and mother Morley and Joy Lertzman, older brothers and their wives, John Lertzman and Susan Caro; Ken Lertzman and Dana Lepofsky, and his beloved six nieces and nephews.


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Donations can be made to a fundraiser by Kari Woo: Loving Support for Sarah, Glen & Mela (

5 Comments on "In loving memory: Dr. David Lertzman"

  1. Blanche Chymycz | May 15, 2021 at 6:47 am | Reply

    It was with shock, disbelief, and incredible sadness that I learned of David’s passing while reading the Cochrane newspapers. I knew David via courses taken with Community Helpers, Family and Community Support Services in Cochrane. One of the courses I took, David taught. He had an impact on me from the moment I first met him; his passion, sincerity, frankness, love of humankind and Mother Earth, his intelligence and gentleness was apparent in every fibre of his being. He did not have to say a word for people to pick up on what a gracious, wonderful man he was. I am saddened to hear of his loss and my thoughts got to his family and friends, and to the world at large who will feel the loss of David’s passing. David had a gracious and genuine spirit we could all learn from. I cannot imagine the world without people like David, the teachers, mentors, and supporters of all that is good and kind and lifegiving in this crazy, mixed up world. Rest in peace, David, and may we meet in another lifetime.

    • Blanche,

      Thank you for honouring David with your beautiful articulation of gratitude for having known him and of sadness for the profound loss his death is for all who knew him — and indeed, for the world. He was one-of-a-kind and we still had so much more to learn from him.

      Much love,

  2. Jodie Brisbin | May 24, 2021 at 5:31 pm | Reply

    We were next door neighbours to the Lertzmans in the 70’s. David had such a friendly and joyful spirit and was always full of energy as a teenager.
    I am so very sorry for your loss and am thinking of the whole family during this difficult time.

  3. Christina Child | May 26, 2021 at 6:49 am | Reply

    It is with great sadness that I heard of David’s passing. I met David as a youth at a Rediscovery camp where he left a lasting impression in my life. He was an amazing kind man, full of compassion, humor and life. My thoughts are with David’s family during this difficult time.

  4. I met David the first time in the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador- he was wearing a green man pendent from Ireland. I have the same one- then when he mentioned he’d had lived in Saratoga,California I asked if he knew Betty Peck- he said Mrs Peck!!! She was his beloved Kindergarten teacher. Now we were like long lost family! He whistled & sang & was pure delight. A few years latter the 2nd time I saw him I was leading my first group back to the rainforest & he walked out all painted in red markings with his Arcuar guide/friend & we embraced! Quite remarkable. He wrote to Betty Oeck for her 80th & 90th birthdays – he will always be loved & remembered with awe, wonder, love & gratitude. I am sorry for your immense loss- but I’m sure his spirit is very available for inspiration insight & guidance.

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