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David Gentle, Writer & Historian, Passes at 87

I’ve made a policy of only writing about people I’ve had direct contact with or had something significant to tell our visitors about them. Had David Gentle (born in Southampton, England) passed away six months earlier, I would not be writing this.

I’ve long been vaguely aware of David as a UK writer and physical culture historian, but my appreciation of his international scope and acclaim began to grow when we received an email from him in March of this year. Carol and I were pleased to learn that he was a regular visitor to our website and aware of my place in the world of physical culture. But that was only the beginning.

My admiration mounted as I learned about his deep involvement in the History of Physical Culture (HOPC) website. (See below)

Legends of the Iron Game, Bill Pearl’s comprehensive and insightful three volume Reflections on the History of Strength Training, calls Gentle “one of the most prolific writers/historians of physical culture. For 50 years, he has contributed to more than 25 muscle publications. Approximately 3000 of his articles relating to physical culture, or strength training, have been published.”

Add ghost writing, and it's far more than that.

As shown by the seven page spread in Legends, David knew and had been photographed with a “Who’s Who” of international physical culture. “I’ve met personalities and superstars in bodybuilding whom I admired and cherished,” he commented. “Most of all, John Grimek. When I close my eyes, I can hear his old gruff New Jersey voice, calling me Gentle Dave.”

David was a lifetime trainer (weights, wrestling and more) but health problems and genetics prevented him from matching the results of Charles Atlas and others he came to idolize and spend his life befriending and writing about.

In 2002, he was presented the Oscar Heidenstam Foundation Award for services to bodybuilding, along with the John Grimek Lifetime Achievement Award.

David is a man the world of physical culture will greatly miss and remember with admiration and respect.

Our sincerest condolences to his wife Rosemary, daughter Karen, granddaughter Kirsty, and his many friends around the world.

*  *  *

This delightful photo of David was provided to us by Rolf Waern, his Swedish friend now residing in France.


*  *  *

That should whet your appetite for more about this remarkable man. You’ll find it in the heart warming memorial by Peter Yates, HOPC Editor-in-Chief:   


And we're not done. You can watch his funeral service at the Romsey Abbey in Romsey, UK, on You Tube. It was a solemn and moving gathering of family and close friends. And entertaining, as David would have wanted.

(The virus was obviously a limiting factor. Fortunately, the internet will bring it to friends and admirers around the world.)

Reflections by wife Rosemary and daughter Karen are read, followed by two close friends talking about their memories of David. One spoke off the cuff and the other read from a script. Both spoke from the heart about David--one ending with magic tricks. It's a 40 minute window into a life well lived: https://youtu.be/oE03YNjzBmo

September 1, 2020

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