In Memory

David Corcoran (Del Nagro)

 

David Archie del Nagro

August 14, 1948 - September 8, 2021

 

Longtime Ojai resident and chef David Archie Del Nagro died suddenly at home in the early hours of September 8, 2021, after a long illness.

David was born to Lois Rice and Angelo Del Nagro in Santa Maria on August 14, 1948. Lois and her parents Archie and Ella Rice were the guiding lights of his childhood which included eight other sisters and brothers. Lois and her children moved to Ojai in the early sixties and purchased and operated The Wheel on Maricopa Highway.

David graduated from Nordhoff High School in 1967 and soon after was employed at the Ranch House Restaurant when Alan Hooker owned and operated it. The Ranch House under Alan Hooker became one of the famous originators of California cuisine.

David trained with Alan and became a well-known chef in the Ojai Valley. There are many good stories of famous people who, after eating a meal cooked by Chef David, invited him to the table for a “thank you” glass of wine. He appeared on radio and TV shows and worked as a food stylist for magazines.

In the 1980s, David co-owned and operated the Deer Lodge and later worked as a consultant to various restaurants in Ventura County. He finished his restaurant career as the Food and Beverage Manager at The Oaks of Ojai before retiring in 2014.

Family was David’s priority and he coached his children and many Ojai youth on AYSO teams, as well as co-coaching the Nordhoff Girls’ Soccer team in the late 1990s into early 2000.

Sports were a passion of his and he passed it on to all of his children and many others in Ojai.

A fixture in Ojai since his arrival, there are few places in town that aren’t associated with one of his stories - from both instigating and brokering peace for the 1967 Ojai Riots, to producing concerts at Libbey Bowl, dating and eventually marrying the mayor’s daughter, fishing every inch of water from Santa Paula to Santa Barbara, and out to the Channel Islands (never returning empty-handed), cruising his decorated golf cart full of grandchildren on the 4th of July, barbecuing for bands at Carbonite Studios and working pro-bono security at every event he attended, he seemed to be everywhere at once.

David marveled at the engineering of things and loved working with his hands; he carved intricate animals into branches to make canes, built his dream house from the studs up, and could fix anything using only the materials nearby. He also found beauty in the little things as his nephew Kwame put it: “David, in the way he lived and interacted with the universe, showed me how important it is to hold space for the millions of bright moments of love you encounter every day. To savor them and share them with laughter, a hand on the shoulder, a silence held, a hard stare, a secret wink, or just in that rolling gait of his as he lumbered down some path, stopping occasionally to pick up a funny shaped rock or marvel at a flower.”

David is survived by his children Mario, Christopher, and Elizabeth whom he shared with his first wife Susan Philbrick; wife Linda Del Nagro Burr and two stepchildren Aaron and Claire Gardner; son Phil Corcoran with whom he was reunited in 2009; siblings Terri Gough, Kathy Eichert, Linda Del Nagro Daniels, Christine Arnott, Andy Del Nagro, Tom Gohl, Jerry Corcoran and Patti Bannister, as well as thirteen beloved grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. David spoke often with great love and pride of all his children and grandchildren’s accomplishments and his legacy will live on in the families they have created. The love of good food and large family gatherings were nurtured in them all, and he will continue to be present in every dish and shared story.

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, October 10th at Soule Park at Picnic Areas 1 and 2 starting at 1:30 pm.