David Leighton

First post: Nov 8, 2017
Welcome to Dr. David L. Leighton's CaringBridge website.  We are using this as a means of connecting with Dave's friends and family in one place, allowing us to share great memories and photos if you have any with this group of Dave fans! :)  See the "Gallery" page for photos taken throughout his wonderful 84 years and please share your own memories under "Well Wishes" at the bottom of this page! Thank you for being important members in his life!

Marine biologist, and respected authority on abalone aquaculture, Dr. David Leonhardt Leighton passed away in his sleep in the early morning hours of November 1, 2017 in Arroyo Grande, CA. His son, Christopher Scott Leighton, was by his side.

Born in Pomona, CA, January 5, 1933, to Wesley G. and Anna “Louise” Leonhardt Leighton, David spent his childhood in Claremont, CA. As a boy, he spent time running trap lines in the foothills above his home near Pomona College. He became fascinated with wildlife, and as a teenager enjoyed hiking and fly fishing in the High Sierras with friends and family. Dave's interests in the sciences only grew. He obtained a Bachelor's of Science in Zoology from Pomona College, where he joined his father's fraternity, Nu Alpha Phi. David volunteered for service in the U.S. Army, 1954-56 active duty, and was stationed in Munich, Germany, where he ran the hematology lab and blood bank. Before completing his term in the army reserves in 1962, he returned to Claremont to continue his education; earning a General Secondary Teaching Credential from the Claremont Graduate School. He would go on to earn a Master's Degree in Invertebrate Zoology from UCLA, and his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His academic studies and ongoing research set forth a trajectory that involved Dr. Leighton in foundational research and discoveries in marine biology, particularly in the culture and biology of abalone. He and his business partners started the Abalone Farm in Cayucos in 1967, which is still in operation today. He spent many more years in Carlsbad, CA, where he introduced abalone culture to the Carlsbad Aquafarm. He dedicated most of his life to the cultivation and preservation of the California red and green abalones, and his successful efforts became the inspiration for continued research in California and around the world.

Among countless scientific articles he had written or edited, Dr. David Leighton's life's research is captured in his book, "The Biology and Culture of the California Abalones". He also co-authored, with his daughter Karen, a children's book, "The Three Little Dinosaurs”. He was a versatile man.

David's legacy in his field of research has been rightfully lauded by his peers, but perhaps fewer people know how uniquely artistic, musically talented, and comically gifted he was. He was lighthearted yet careful and had a truly kind soul.

David is survived by his brother Charles D. Leighton, his four children Karen Leighton Strickland, David Brian Leighton, Christopher Scott Leighton, and Debora Elaine Leighton. He has two grandchildren, Andrew and Hope Strickland, and one great grandchild, Julian Branch Strickland.

Dave has requested that no funeral or memorial services be held in his name. His wishes were to be cremated, and his “cremains” be scattered in the desert east of Indio in the Chuckwalla Mountains.

[Revised 11-09-2017]

Thank you for visiting and come back to find more tributes to the wonderful man. 

Dave has requested that memorial services are not held in his name, so we pay tribute to him here, on this website.  His kids and willing family members will be taking a backpacking trip through the desert this spring to scatter Dad's ashes.  Yes, the desert! Not the ocean. That unique guy!  Dave was incredibly loved and he will live on through everyone who knew him. Thank you.

We also feel that Dave would have been wholeheartedly in support of us referring those of you interested in contributing to Dave's legacy and in support of continuing efforts to preserve his favorite creature, to donate to the Green Abalone Restoration Project.  Learn more by following the link below :)

Donate to the Green Abalone Restoration Project:
https://www.GoFundMe.com/abalone (https://www.gofundme.com/abalone)

Charles Leighton (brother):   cdandmaleighton@sbcglobal.net
Karen Strickland (first daughter):   exoticona@mac.com
Brian Leighton (first son):    contact Karen
Chris Leighton (second son):   christopher.scott.leighton@gmail.com
Deb Leighton (second daughter):   deboraeleighton@mac.com

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