David Thoenen

Profile Updated: April 20, 2023
David Thoenen
David Thoenen


David Thoenen


David Thoenen


Yes! Attending Reunion
Spouse/Partner, children, grands and steps: Spouse and Best Friend - Maria Ahmadi Thoenen; Children - James and Shayni; Daughter in Law - Jennifer; Grand Girl - Jordyn
Career History: 35 years with IBM
City and State: Raleigh, NC USA
Education History since Swarthmore:

Took Red Cross Wilderness First Aid three times. Almost had to take a safe driver class due to a misunderstanding about doing 55 in a 35 zone, but the judge let me go with just a fine.
Other than that, none. Enough was enough!

Open Category for Whatever you want to tell about yourself:

Late in my senior year, with zero job prospects on the horizon, I fell into a career at an all night poker game which included class mate Paul Horsting. The players seated to my right and left had graduated the year before and were working for IBM. They encouraged me (a history major!) to schedule an employment interview. And thirty-six years later, in 2005, I retired from Big Blue. Thirty-six terrific, challenging years working with superior people.

Stuff did happen in the interim.

First of all, I quit IBM after three years. With a couple of buddies (including Duffy Burns '70) we bought a 38' sailboat and moved to the Bahamas (my first retirement). Ran out of money, sold the boat, took the cash, bought a VW, drove from Philly to Panama and back , learned a bunch of Spanish, met some really friendly people (buenos dias, senorita!), got hassled big time by some nasty guys in uniforms, ran out of money again, cleaned out the car (of you know what), crossed back into the US, shaved my beard and resumed my IBM career.

By the mid-seventies boredom had set in (I lived in Philly), so the International BM Co. obliged my yearning for adventure by assigning me to Tehran. Where I met the beautiful Maria (like they say on Wheel of Fortune … “to whom I owe everything that is good in my life”). I married my Persian princess and as a bonus acquired a five year old step-son in the process. Now, understand, at the outset, IBM assumed my stay in Tehran would be a three year deal. I guess someone should have let the Ayatollah Komeini in on our little agreement. I never made it to the three year mark, but had quite an experience getting the Hell Out of Dodge with the family (had to leave the dog behind). I believe everyone should experience at least one revolution close up. Actually, one is quite enough. I almost ran out of the theater while watching Argo. Minor league PTSD. It was really, really stressful for me. Hit too close to home, even after all these years.

So, on to Hong Kong for several years covering all of Southeast Asia for IBM. Ah, the luxury of living in a colony on the colonial power's side of the tracks! While in Hong Kong we completed our little rainbow American Iranian Chinese Moslem family by adopting number one daughter, Shayni.

(Are you bored yet? Too much detail? I'll try to wrap it up soon.)

In 1981, we arrived in wonderful Raleigh. Planned on a two to three year stay and then take the next promotion and move on to South Dakota or somewhere equally attractive. Well … we just liked Raleigh too much to leave, so I changed from a management career path to a technical one that allowed us to put down roots. In '89 we did leave for four years in Brussels, nice place, loved it, but we kept the house in Raleigh and moved back into the old neighborhood upon our return.

And we've been here ever since. Finished raising the kids, wrapped up the IBM thing, bought a condo at Topsail Beach, and now I spend tons and tons of time with my best buddy and sidekick, our grand daughter Jordy.

So much for the time line. Ready to hear about hobbies/interests/avocational pursuits?

I've done a lot of backpacking over the years. At age fifty-five I decided I'd rather be a rock climber and mountaineer. So … that's what I do now. Climb. Rock, ice, snow. And I serve in various official positions in the American Alpine Club, including leading a delegation of AAC climbers to Iran in 2010 to climb with our friends at the Alpine Club of Iran. First trip back since '78. Still a very scary place. Got detained by Iranian security (but we'll save that story for another time).

Finally. I was a docent at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Actually, I rose to be the president of the docent association, leading fifteen males and one-hundred and sixty grey-haired females to new heights of docenting success. However, serious friction developed between the museum administration and myself and I resigned "for personal reasons to pursue other interests."

I hope everyone in the class has chalked up as much fun and adventure over the past fifty years as I have. And has been as lucky on the marriage, family side of life. Life always presents challenges but overall it's been a blast!

Military? Alternative Service? Peace Corps? Protestor? Canada? If none of the above apply to you how did you relate to the war? Personally, through friends, family. Leave blank if you don't want to answer the question.

Passed pre induction physical with flying colors November 1970. Called draft board and was informed that I would be in the first draft of 1971. Notified IBM to start processing my military leave papers.

And then ... Congress passed the draft lottery act. First lottery drawing followed and D Thoenen's birthday was pulled number 365!! Went back to IBM and told them to tear up the papers.

Losses, illness, challenges? Spiritual/religious musings?

My thoughts on the time remaining? Huh? Wat'cha mean?

Favorite memory from Swarthmore years:

It's all a blur. Fifty years is a long time, so bear with me. Or bail. Whatever.

Fall of 1964. Culture shock. In two months, I moved from a highly structured, extremely conservative, socially hierarchical Southern Prep School to a free-as-free-could-be, politically progressive and socially wide open campus. And I thrived!! Swarthmore provided all that I was looking for in higher education; women, the best of the 60s recreational alternatives, and a lacrosse team that was mediocre enough that I could be a starter (and very close life-long friends). After two years, the result of my “thriving” was that I frequently forgot to attend classes, necessitating a year's respite from academia spent working as a community organizer in the poor black communities back the “hollers” of southern West Virginia. Classic late 60's “Movement” stuff. Denounced as communists, death threats, terrific moonshine parties, taught to dance proper by soulful black ladies (yes, Tampa Hampton, where ever you are, dear, I still can boogaloo). Much to my parents' relief I returned to school. Even managed to pick up a couple of "A"s and graduated!!!! But my favorite memory (now that I've lived in NC for the past 35+ years) is scoring a goal against the University of North Carolina (pure luck and we lost 14-2 but ...).

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David Thoenen has a birthday today.
Feb 26, 2024 at 4:33 AM
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Apr 20, 2023 at 11:58 AM
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Apr 20, 2023 at 11:57 AM
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Mar 08, 2023 at 4:41 PM

My birthday has been a well kept secret. That's OK with me but over the years I've wondered ...

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Feb 26, 2023 at 4:33 AM
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Nov 21, 2021 at 1:14 PM

Posted on: Nov 20, 2021 at 3:16 PM

I'm taking a pause in the chaos of my life to add a bit of updated information to the item in our most recent class note regarding my involvement with an NGO operating in Afghanistan, Ascend - Leadership through Athletics. Since mid August Ascend has been working literally around the clock to extricate our Ascend family from Afghanistan.

First the numbers. To date Ascend operations have brought 130 + members of its community out of Afghanistan. While evacuation operations will continue, the emphasis now shifts to resettlement of those in transit. Twenty have arrived in their new home in Ireland. The first nineteen of twenty-nine are resettled in Chile. Five have transitioned from US care in Abu Dhabi to Germany. Four of eight are now in Denmark. Currently twenty are in US resettlement facilities in the US with more to follow. Others are in transit in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. A little over three months (a lifetime) ago Ascend was delivering women's empowerment programming in Kabul. Since then an awesome team of staff and international volunteers has worked seven by twenty four, managing a global migration of young women to new homes. Truly remarkable transition!

Reality check. Take a long look at the photo and think about it. I find it moving. These girls have just disembarked in Abu Dhabi. They are so much more than numbers to celebrate. They are teenagers just like your grand kids or the kids living down the street from you. Two are only fifteen. They and their families have made excruciatingly difficult decisions. Two days before getting on the evacuation flight in Mazar they said good bye to their homes and families not knowing if they would ever see them again. Their courage is mind boggling. It was the promise of a future free of Taliban brutality and an opportunity to acquire education and live as free women that motivated them to accept challenges that will test that courage. Their faith in Ascend gave them the strength to commit to a promising future. They are remarkable.

Ascend's strategic plan for 2022-2023 is emerging. Revised programming will continue in Afghanistan. The objective of the empowerment of Afghan women and commitment to Ascend's mission there remains unchanged. The board of directors will also be considering options for exporting the Ascend model to other countries with similar cultural characteristics (and mountains!) to Afghanistan. And the Ascend programming model is likely to be applied in refugee communities with one country already establishing a prototype organization. And the beat goes on!

The Taliban are in Kabul. That's one reality that Ascend will respond to. A more universal reality is that girls and women globally face challenges where the leadership skills that Ascend enables can be brought to bear. That's what Ascend is all about.

David Thoenen added a comment on his Profile.
Sep 29, 2021 at 9:44 AM
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Sep 25, 2021 at 11:58 AM
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May 16, 2021 at 1:10 PM

Posted on: May 14, 2021 at 9:36 AM

I remember the young woman in the photo! See, I can still remember stuff!

David Thoenen posted a message.
May 13, 2021 at 10:37 AM

Cake headed to Delta. Watch for parachute over house mid AM (MDT) next Thursday. Handle with care upon landing to avoid candle flames igniting shroud. Return address for chute will be attached. I expect cake to be shared with Joann and Jan. George, Bob and Dave optional.

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Feb 26, 2021 at 9:20 PM

Posted on: Feb 26, 2021 at 4:33 AM

David Thoenen has a birthday today.
Feb 26, 2020 at 4:35 AM
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Mar 22, 2019 at 1:07 PM
David Thoenen has a birthday today.
Feb 26, 2019 at 4:33 AM
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Oct 05, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Posted on: Oct 01, 2018 at 10:11 AM

You back in NC yet? Need to get you over here for dinner.

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May 09, 2018 at 8:31 AM

Posted on: May 05, 2018 at 6:53 PM

David Thoenen has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Apr 26, 2018 at 12:33 PM

I find Faris's passing very disturbing.   No doubt because I haven't crossed paths with him for fifty years, but I can not imagine him as anyone other than the young, strong lacrosse player, my team mate, that I knew.    He and I shared a Baltimore / Washington area high school lacrosse background (his of a better pedigree than mine) that brought us together in our first fall at Swarthmore.  His upbeat contributions to our team were important and appreciated.   A truly good guy.  Feeling sad.   For his family, of course, but also for myself.   

David Thoenen posted a message.
Apr 23, 2018 at 4:14 PM

Place holder.

David Thoenen has a birthday today.
Feb 26, 2018 at 4:34 AM
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Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:42 AM
Number One Daughter in Law Jennifer
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:41 AM
Grand Girl and Grand Dad.
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Number One Daughter Shayni
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:24 AM
Sailing, sailing. At the helm of the Tainui somewhere in the Bahamas 1973. While you all were cramming for your PhD exams!
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:21 AM
Number One Son James.
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:19 AM
Life is sweet!
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:43 AM
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:43 AM
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:43 AM
Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:44 AM