Cathedral School for Boys Mourns The Passing Of Rev. Canon David Forbes

Dear Cathedral School Community:
 
It is with such a heavy heart that I write to inform you that the Reverend Canon David Forbes, Founding Headmaster and inspirational leader of Cathedral School for Boys for the past sixty-five years, died at his home in Palm Springs yesterday. He was 96 years old.
 
Perhaps like many of you, I vividly remember the first time that I met David...
I had traveled to Anaheim in the winter of 2015 to attend a conference hosted by the National Association of Episcopal Schools. I had recently accepted the offer to serve as Head of Cathedral School for Boys, a position that would not formally begin until later that summer, and I was keen to meet him in person.
 
It was easy to identify David as I entered the facility's vast meeting hall. Of the hundreds of people in the room, he was the only one surrounded by a host of educators, all eager to be in the presence of this great man. I suspect that this image of David surrounded by excited school heads is not so different from the image of David walking the halls of Cathedral School surrounded by boys clamoring to be in his presence.
 
Although it was late in the afternoon, David waited patiently and gave each colleague his full and undivided attention for as long as they wanted it. The throng eventually subsided, and I made my way to him. I acknowledged that it was late in the afternoon and that we could easily find more time later, but David proceeded to regale me for the next few hours with the stories of the founding of and the philosophy behind his beloved school. His enthusiasm only grew as the conversation continued.
 
In fact, one of the many things that have always awed me about David was his uncanny memory. He could recall all of his students: their names, their talents, their parents, the high schools they attended, the mischief they got into. Anyone who was ever part of this place was indelibly etched into his memory.
 
This, then, was David: patient and passionate, witty and wise, historian and humanitarian, admirer and admired.
 
One of the things that have dawned on me during my tenure at Cathedral School is just how conscious and prescient David was, both in founding Cathedral School for Boys and in championing the cause of Episcopal schools throughout the subsequent decades. David's vision was divinely inspired and directed by an almost preternatural understanding of the rhythms and needs of boys. While the quality of Cathedral School's academics was always prominent, of equal significance was the diversification of the student body. Unlike many independent schools at that time, Cathedral was a school that would seek to provide a full education to any boy, regardless of his background and regardless of his circumstances. Long before most, David understood that all students and the communities in which they lived would benefit from this educational vision.
 
History teaches us that the construction of the world's great cathedrals never really ends. This lesson holds true for schools, as it should for all institutions that serve a higher calling. David's Cathedral School has and will continue to evolve over time. Boys will come and go. Teachers will retire. Facilities will change. He would want it that way.
 
Yet the vision that David set into motion will remain inviolable. It will remain inviolable through his work with the National Association of Episcopal Schools, a cause he championed throughout his life. It will remain inviolable through the perpetuation of Cathedral School for Boys, one of our nation's great schools. And it will remain inviolable through the lives of the thousands of Cathedral School boys, David's "sons" one and all, whose lives he influenced so thoroughly.
 
We will work, of course, in the coming days to develop appropriate ways in which to honor and memorialize David and his legacy, and we promise to communicate this information to you very soon. 
 
Until then, perhaps we might reflect on the prayer of St. Francis and its call to live a life much like David's: as consoler, pardoner, peacemaker, font of hope, builder of faith, and source of light. For as St. Francis reminds us, it is in living in this way "that we are born to eternal life."
 
Very truly yours,
 
 
Head of School
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Cathedral School for Boys

Located in San Francisco, CA, Cathedral School for Boys is an independent elementary school for boys in grades K-8. Our Mission is to provide an excellent education through intellectual inquiry and rigor that is centered in the Episcopal tradition and is respectful of and welcoming to people of all religious traditions and beliefs.
1275 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94108   •   Phone: 415.771.6600   •   Fax: 415.771.2547