On Sunday April 19th, David Brenenstuhl, longtime resident of Hillsdale, New York and regular reader of the obituaries first, passed away from complications of the coronavirus. Born on October 2, 1949 to Thomas and Margert Brenenstuhl, he was one of five sons, four having served in the military. David, feeling he chose best, served in the Navy. David was very proud of his time with the Navy and would often look to encourage others (especially grandsons John and Theo) to enlist or head to Annapolis. David traveled the world with the Navy on the USS Reeves during and after the Vietnam War. During his time in the service, he gained skills as an electrician, served as an entertainment coordinator, and acquired the ability to ask to for a beer and the restroom in countless languages. As you can imagine, this was the perfect prerequisite to his career as chef and owner of the Hillsdale House. Using funds from a GI Bill, David attended the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park while running his business with wife Deborah, helping to raise his two children, Christina and Jason, and also serving in the Navy Reserves. David might have developed his affinity for naps during this time. A spot on the hammock with the paper was a favorite of his for a “catnap”; claiming with pride that 15 minutes was all he needed to work through the rest of the night. Taking the Hillsdale House from bar to restaurant was a labor of love for David. He had an uncompromising dedication to quality, loved developing a seasonal menu, and working with local farmers. He was a collector of unusual and craft beers to serve before it was trendy and a collector of friends from far and wide. He thought of staff and customers as family. He knew everyone’s drink and favorite food. You felt cared for in his presence because you were. David was a man of quick wit and a great sense of humor. He loved chatting with friends and helping others. Other loves… heavily starched and pressed shirts, straight creases in his pants, a good game of Hearts with friends, and mowing the lawn. Between lunch and dinner prep David could be found mowing the lawn on his Snapper. David loved keeping the lawn tamed while also getting some sun. In fact, he put in a pool so he could clean and maintain it; a job he loved as a teenager at Kaydeross Park in Saratoga Springs. David had dreams of traveling the world again and sampling each country’s local cuisines. We don’t think there was a food he wouldn’t try until Crohn’s Disease robbed him of this passion. As David grew older and his health declined he had to stop his work at the restaurant. He continued to love his “catnaps” now with the cuddle of his cat, Henri. He became Papa to his grandsons. He raised ducks and chickens (naming each and every one of them). And, he continued to love history, to watch the news, Jeopardy, old Westerns and Italian cooking with Lidia Bastianich. David could always be counted on for a donation to a local charity, a good meal, and a helping hand if needed. To honor his memory, please lift a glass and toast this man that we sorely miss, eat a good meal with fresh ingredients, and consider a donation to a local charity or the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Arrangements are with the Peck and Peck Funeral Home of Copake, NY. To send an online condolence please visit www.peckandpeck.net.
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