For more than half a century, David Zehner ’56 has successfully combined his zeal for learning, entertaining and helping those in need. After graduating from SHS, David joined the Navy and, after completing studies at the Naval School of Music, played the euphonium for The United States Navy Band. In addition to concerts and a wide range of public ceremonies, David’s years in the band saw him playing for numerous foreign heads of state as well as seven U.S. presidents. David is the only SHS alumnus known to become a member of the U.S. Navy Band, commonly known as “The World’s Finest,” or any of the four military service bands. He continues to play the euphonium in two community bands.
While in the Navy, David earned two degrees – an associate’s in engineering from Prince Georges Community College and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from George Washington University (GWU). After retiring in 1976 as a master chief petty officer, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank, he earned a master’s in civil engineering and a degree of engineer, both from GWU. David then joined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he has reviewed the design and safety of some of the country’s largest hydro power projects. In 1995 the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded him the Rickey Medal for co-authoring a technical manual on hydroelectric project operation. He retired again in 2000 and remains a registered PE (professional engineer) in Virginia.
Since retiring he has made seven trips to the Gulf Coast to aid in recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, participated in mission trips to Haiti and several southern states, and has helped build six homes for Habit For Humanity. David lives in Amissville, Virginia where he and wife Naomi celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary in June 2013. His nominator and presenter: Naomi Osborne Zehner ’57.