David A. Remley, a longtime resident of Silver City, New Mexico, died Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Tucson following heart surgery. A prolific writer and retired college professor, he was 87.
Known to his friends as “Dave,” he was born in Glendale, Calif., on Aug. 30, 1931. He held a bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville; a master’s degree from Harvard University; and a Ph.D. in English literature from Indiana University in Bloomington.
A U.S. Army veteran, he was based in Alaska in 1955, where as a young man he developed an interest in the northernmost state and later wrote a book about it. Before beginning work on his doctorate, he taught high school for several years in Indiana. He spent his academic career at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. A little more than two decades ago he took early retirement from UNM and moved to Silver City to devote himself full time to writing.
Although his doctorate was in English literature, Remley always considered himself a historian. He often told friends that if he could do his career over, he would major in history.
His love of history, especially western history, was reflected in his books. His two best known works are “Kit Carson: The Life of an American Border Man,” published in 2012, and “Bell Ranch: Cattle Ranching in the Southwest, 1824-1947,” published in 1993. Both books received critical acclaim from historians. The Bell Ranch book won a major award from the Historical Society of New Mexico. Of the Kit Carson Book, historian Darlis Miller wrote: “David Remley is a good storyteller. He writes with verve, creating a compelling story of one of the best-known western figures of all time.”
Other books by Remley include “Adios Nuevo Mexico: The Santa Fe Journal of John Watts in 1859,” published in 2015, and “Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway,” published in 2008.
Remley is survived by five nieces, Leslie Wang, Julia Nash and Amy Rao, all of Palo Alto, California, and Lucinda Kesterson and Melinda Anderson, both of Brownsburg; and nephew Danny Bowman of Plainwell, Michigan.
A memorial service will be held in the spring in Silver City.