David Stevens was an accomplished organizational and civic leader, a devoted husband, a passionate champion for seniors, a good friend to many, and an inspiration to everyone he met. His exquisite legacy stretches far and wide.
David, who died on April 28, had a distinguished career of service and leadership. For the last 28 years, David served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging and Senior Center Directors. He provided training and advocacy to a statewide network that represents 350 communities that have established municipal Councils on Aging. All who care about older adults are immensely grateful for advances David led in making Massachusetts an age-friendly state. From expanding opportunities for LGBTQ seniors, to the Healthy Aging initiatives, to building up the SHINE program, to an expanded focus on mental health for older adults, and much more – we in the Senate benefited from David’s tireless advocacy and sharp guidance again and again.
Before the Councils on Aging, David led a project at the Families USA Foundation conducting a statewide demonstration project in Massachusetts to strengthen the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for elders. He built training programs and referral systems that helped hundreds of elders gain access to this valuable program. David also spent ten years, during the 1980s, at Greater Springfield Senior Services, being given more and more responsibility as he moved up the ladder from Case Manager to Home Meal Coordinator to Nutrition Program Manager and finally serving as the Director of the Area Agency on Aging.
In addition to his respected career accomplishments, David was devoted to his community. Northampton Mayor Gina Louise Sciarra said that David gave of himself with love and abandon. He chaired Northampton’s census re-precincting committee in 2001, 2011, and last year in 2021; co-chaired Northampton’s 350th anniversary committee; and chaired the Charter Drafting Committee in 2012. He was a County Commissioner where he chaired the Hampshire Council of Governments. He also served on Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.
More than all of his formal roles, David is universally remembered and praised for his infectious smile and for being wickedly funny – always with a twinkle in his eye. David had an ability to make everyone feel welcome. He is also remembered for his warmth, honesty, integrity, and determination – and his freely-given bear hugs.
We extend our deep condolences to his husband, Jeff Rankin, and to his family, as well as his large circle of close friends and colleagues.
David was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2021 and for the last months fought bravely for his life while continuing to lead his agency with grace and determination. Only a few weeks before his death, David actively lobbied with his usual clarity and reasonableness for the needs of Councils on Aging and older people.
David’s compassion and spirit live on in all who love him, learned from him, and were inspired by him. Older adults throughout the Commonwealth are leading better lives because of David’s work. The Massachusetts Senate honors his memory through its continued commitment to making the Commonwealth a place where elders can live with dignity, security, and support.