David Ponce
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
Celebrating David today and always. We love you and miss you so much...

This site is in honor of our wonderful David who left us too soon on September 12, 2006 after a brief but courageous battle with leukemia. David was a film student at Chapman University in Orange California. He was known for his talent, wit and most of all, his love for his friends and family. He was thoughtful and compassionate and spent his last days focused on his documentary on Sparrow Village, an AIDS orphanage near Johannesburg South Africa.

We are heartbroken without him but are blessed to have had this wonderful person, this gift in our lives.
We celebrate, honor and miss him every day.
We know that you live on and we will try to make you proud until we are together again.
We love you always, David.

For you, David, from Mom:

"To Honor You
To honor you, I get up every day
And take a breath
And start another day
Without you in it.
To honor you, I laugh and love
With those who knew your smile,
And the way your eyes sparkled with joy,
Full of life.
To honor you, I take the time
To appreciate everyone I love.
I know now there is no guarantee
Of days or hours spent in their presence.
You are the light of my life,
My gift of love
From our Heavenly Father.
So every day, I vow to make a difference,
Share a smile, live, laugh, and love.
Now I live for us both.
So all I do, I do to honor you,
My precious, beautiful child.
- Author Unknown

For David

A Poem by his beloved cousin Laurel

For My Cousin David Who
could see things that
others could not see
who liked to watch
people and find humor
in the ordinary things they did.
who then used his great talent
and imagination to put those funny
things into film,
in a way that was different
and all his own.

For My Cousin David who
was as true to himself
as anyone could be.
who followed his heart and
thought for himself,
he had a passion for new and
exciting things,
who once was very fond of
directing the movies he wrote,
but best of all when he acted
in them himself..
was an individual and
was always himself,
and he never cared of what
people thought about him,
who cared for others more
than he cared for himself and
spent his precious last months trying
to make a film about sick children
in Africa, he had tried to help.

For My Cousin David Who
may be gone
from this earth,
but will always be with me.
who has taught me that
I can be the best I can be if
I just keep in touch
with what is inside of me,
to always follow my heart,
and to have faith in others.
He is the most unique and
special person I’ve ever known.
who has done many wonderful
Things in his lifetime and
They will always be

Click here to see David Ponce's
Family Tree
Tributes and Condolences
Missing you on Christmas Eve   / Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz (Aunt)
12/24/2010   Dear David: I woke up today missing you. The sun was not up yet and I was awake thinking of you and painfully realizing one more time that you are not here with us at least not physically... I know that in spirit you are and that ...  Continue >>
Four Years   / Mary Ann Ponce (Your Mom )
My amazing boyHow is it possible that we have been separated for four years? How is that possible David?Sometimes when I first wake up I almost forget that all of this has happened. Then it hits me just the same the sickening disbelief that this is o...  Continue >>
Missing you   / Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz (Aunt)
9.12.2010   Dearest David: This entire week-end has been one of remembrance and pain for those loved ones who are already gone from us. Yesterday we remembered the tragedy of September 11 and we all cried with the families of those who lost f...  Continue >>
Missing you,   / Jon Harmon (former roommate and friend )
I've been thinking about you this evening David and I really miss you so much. I have so many wonderful wonderful memories in that year we spent living together. I remember when you took a nap before work and your alarm went off and you fell out of ...  Continue >>
Christmas Thoughts   / Marilyn Cassidy (Friend)
Dearest Mary Ann Ed David and Family I have such fond memories of Christmas with your family at your home. I am so grateful for your kindness especially to my parents. David you know Chirstmas in its full Glory now. We miss you here. Mary Ed and ...  Continue >>
Today you would had been 32  / Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz (Aunt)    Read >>
On my mind, as usual  / Vickie Nash (Wannabe Aunt )    Read >>
Pn your ninth anniversary  / Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz (Aunt)    Read >>
Missing you on Christmas Day  / Yolanda Pup0-Ortiz (Aunt)    Read >>
On Your Birthday  / Yolanda Pupo Ortiz (Aunt)    Read >>
so sorry for your loss  / Jacob's Mum (Mother to an Angel )    Read >>
Groundhog Day  / Your Mom Always (Mom)    Read >>
Celebrating David  / Your Mom And Dad     Read >>
A Gull Overhead  / Vickie Nash (Aunt out of sheer luck )    Read >>
We are honoring and celebrating your birthday  / Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz (Aunt)    Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
David's Letter to the Director of Sparrow Village  
David’s letter to Sparrow Village:

July 27, 2006

Dear Rev. McClintock,

First, I hope all is well with you and Sparrow Ministries. Four months out my experience at Sparrow has not left me and there is not a day that passes that I do not think about the people I met there or the stories I had heard. You have created a village that embodies joy and, above all, hope. The words elude me to give proper thanks for allowing me such an experience.

It had been my hope to embody and personify this joy and hope I experienced in Sparrow, in the upcoming documentary, tentatively entitled The Lost Sparrows of Roodeport. However, soon after I arrived back in the states I fell ill and in June I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. I believe firmly that it has been my experience at Sparrow that has helped me and continues to help me progress through my treatment and not give in. It is deeply imperative to me that a documentary is delivered to Sparrow that accurately portrays the heart, the lives and the faith that those at Sparrow exude. This being said, I will begin working on the project in between a series of treatments this fall (September-November), however sick. The true test of my wellbeing will come in the following months. I will be handing off my tapes from Sparrow to my Professor, who has great experience in producing documentaries. In the event events proceed badly for me, my Professor will restart the documentary to make it his own rather than pick up where I had left off. Again, nothing is as important to me as producing a work that is true to Sparrow and showing those who have not visited, just what the human spirit is capable of when faced with something immensely dark and frightening. The spirit of Sparrow has touched me personally as a beacon of light in my own fight for life. And to this I forever owe gratitude and have sworn to myself to produce something substantial in propagating the idea of hope and joy in the face of something so ugly.

David Ponce

Chagrin Valley Times Article: Hope Lives  
"The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort" press release  
“The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort” Press Release

First Screening
A young man’s dream of producing a documentary on AIDS afflicted children of Sparrow Village in Roodepoort, South Africa has finally come true. Fevered Dreams Productions will present the first screening of "The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort," by David Ponce and Brock Carter, on Saturday, November 15, at 7:00 p.m. at Chagrin Falls High School Performing Arts Center, 400 East Washington St., Chagrin Falls. An after-party celebration will be held at Trifles Cafe, 516 East Washington Street, Chagrin Falls.

Price of tickets for the screening is $15.00 per person and after-party celebration price per person is $35. Call 440-247-0137 for information or e-mail pncfalls@aol.com.

Founder and Director of Sparrow Village
Reverend Corine McClintock, founder and director of Sparrow Village, is traveling all the way from South Africa to Chagrin Falls in honor of David Ponce’s dream and the completion of this documentary. She is extremely pleased that the story of these children who suffer from AIDS and the work involved in helping them is finally being told. Reverend McClintock has spent years providing much needed help to those children with AIDS in South Africa, and David’s dream was to tell the world abou t Sparrow Village.

David’s Dream
David Ponce, a Chagrin Falls High School graduate and fi lm student of Chapman University, died of leukemia before he could complete this film. As a film student, David visited Sparrow Village and was so touched by what he saw, he brought back footage so he could produce a documentary about these children and their hopes and20dreams. After his visit to South Africa, David said, "Nothing is as important to me as producing a work that is true to Sparrow and showing those who have not visited, just what the human spirit is capable of when face d with something immensely dark and frightening." But before he could carry out his dream, David died at the young age of 20. After David’s death, in an effort to keep=2 0his dream alive, his mother, Mary Ann Ponce and a close friend and fellow Chapman film student, Brock Carter, traveled to South Africa to get more footage necessary to complete the production.

More information on Fevered Dreams Productions, a non-profit film company that David established, can be found at www.fevereddreams.org
Sun Newspaper Article about David and his Sparrow Village project  
His lesson of hope will live on in documentary 
By Jarrod Zickefoose
Arts & Entertainment Editor 

"Nothing is as important to me as producing a work that is true to Sparrow and showing those who have not visited just what the human spirit is capable of when faced with something immensely dark and frightening."
— David Ponce, in a July letter to Sparrow Village 

David Ponce returned from Africa a different man.
The Chapman University student from Chagrin Falls had spent 10 days at Sparrow Village, a South African hospice for children with AIDS. Ponce, a 20-year-old film student, shot 30 hours of footage and returned with plans to complete a documentary on the facility.
In a place where one of the deadliest diseases on the planet had infected some of the planet’s most defenseless children, David discovered something he never expected: hope.
"After he went there, it moved him so much," David’s mother Mary Ann said. "It changed his perspective about what it means to be rich, what life was about and what joy was about."
David returned in April with plans to call his documentary "The Lost Sparrows of Roodeport." He believed it would be his breakout film.
In June things changed. David was diagnosed with leukemia, and within three months he succumbed to complications of the disease.
But thanks to friends and a mentor, his hope for the documentary will live on. Next month, Mike Kowalski, one of David’s professors at Chapman, will visit Chagrin Falls, interview the people David traveled to South Africa with, and then complete the film.
Early interest

Mary Ann described David as "intuitive, sensitive and extremely funny¤.¤.¤.¤He would knock you dead with some of the comments he would make." 
People who knew him were used to seeing David in a tee shirt that across the chest read, "I film, therefore I am."
By the time he was 8 or 9, he was already making movies.
"He discovered film and just became intrigued by it," Mary Ann said. 
David liked acting and as a child spent time on stage at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre in Chagrin Falls. He wrote his first screenplay when he was 10. It was called "The Enormous Purple Sneaker."
Traveling with his father, Edgar, in Paris, David shot what could be called his first documentary, "The Bathrooms of Paris."
As a senior at Chagrin Falls High School, he filmed an adaptation of "Beowulf" that is still used in classes at the school.
"He found what he wanted to do in life and was completely driven by that," Mary Ann said.
That drive helped him get into Chapman in Orange, Calif., which boasts one of the nation’s top film programs. 
Mary Ann said she and Edgar supported David’s interest in film, but admitted that when they learned the cost of sending him to Chapman, they were hesitant.
So David, who graduated from CFHS in 2004, took matters into his own hands. With help from his "Beowulf," he secured a scholarship. 
‘Mom, get the tape’  

For years, members of The Federated Church in Chagrin Falls have traveled to Sparrow Village. Once enrolled at Chapman, David began discussing a possible documentary on the hospice with Kowalski. The Ponces are Federated members.
The two talked about the ethical, legal and practical issues of making the film.
"The one thing I sensed in him was this burden that if he was going to make this film, he was going to make it right,’ Kowalski said. 
In March, David was ready to travel to the hospice, but he was not ready for the experience he would have.
Instead of despair, David discovered a profound sense of hope and of the resiliency of the human spirit. He found "joy in the face of something so ugly," he wrote in July to the center’s director, the Rev. Corine McClintock.
David returned determined to share his discovery with the world.
But shortly after he was diagnosed, David contracted a sepsis infection. He died Sept. 12.
Mary Ann believed David’s experiences in South Africa helped him deal with his illness.
"He had such a good attitude. He never complained, never questioned," she said.
"His last words to me were, ‘Mom, get the tape.’" 

From student to mentor 

Rather than question, David planned. His documentary would be finished even if he was not there to do it. If he died, David wanted Kowalski to finish the documentary.
After David returned from South Africa, the two met twice and watched some of the footage. Unknown to both, these were the last chances Kowalski would have to speak with David.
Shortly after David’s death, Mary Ann e-mailed Kowalski and told him David hoped the professor could complete the project.
"I was kind of shocked," Kowalski said.
Sharing the story  

Kowalski can see the Sparrow Village trip through David’s eyes via the footage David shot there, but to hear the story, he will have to talk to the people who were with him. Jan. 19, Kowalski will travel to Chagrin Falls to interview the half dozen Federated members who were with David at Sparrow Village.
"For a documentary like this to work, it can’t be an outside look," Kowalski said.
Kowalski wants the residents of Sparrow Village to see the finished film. ¶
He said likely outlets for the documentary will be film festivals and the Public Broadcasting System.
"The movie will be about how a place like this can create hope," Kowalski said.
It’s the exact message David wanted to send.
"It’s bittersweet," Mary Ann said. "I just keep saying it should be David. By the same token, we are very, very grateful all these people are stepping in to help us finish this."
Contact Zickefoose at jarrod_zickefoose@yahoo.com

Chapman University article about David  

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More of his legacy...
David's Photo Album
That smile we love
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