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David L. Peebles (July 30, 1949–December 3, 2016)

By Avivah Wargon and Ruth Pincoe

Toronto editors and many other friends feel a great sense of loss after the death of David Peebles in December 2016. David was held in great affection and valued for his generous help, his legendary technical knowledge and skills, and his sense of humour. He is also remembered for his meticulous editing of technical material and for his service as chair of EAC’s technology committee in 1999–2000.

Editing was not David’s first career. His interest in how things work showed early on. Shortly after earning a bachelor of science degree, he began a lifelong freelance career, applying his wide range of technical skills to everything from theatre lighting and sound systems to rewiring old houses. David also loved words, as a thumbnail bio shows:

At the back of his filing cabinet David has an honours B.Sc. from the mathematics-physics-chemistry program at the University of Toronto, an unsaleable screenplay, and three awards for short stories. Before it finally dawned on him that he could combine his interests in writing and technology by working as a technical editor, David had operated a radio telescope, helped develop a medical research instrument, designed a slide projector interface for stage lighting systems, and done a wide variety of electrical installations and troubleshooting.

In 1982 David married Ruth Pincoe, an editor and indexer specializing in music and theatre; their shared and complementary interests in words, theatre, hiking, food, and drink made for a rich partnership. In 1997 an in-house colleague and friend called Ruth to offer her a textbook on wiring, saying, “I know you’ll give it to David to do a technical read.” David did much more than that: he went on to a companion book and worked on several supplements. His career as an editor had begun. He quickly became sought after by educational publishers for developmental editing of science, mathematics, and electronics texts. He understood the equations and formulas, and he enjoyed working with authors who appreciated his background knowledge. (more…)