David Alan Willard loved his alma mater, Princeton University, so much that when he finished medical school, he decided to settle with his family in the quaint university town. But as much as he adored Tiger Town, it couldn't quite compete with Maine, where he was born and where he owned a little cottage on a lake, said his daughter Carol Sullivan.
"Maine was his significant love. We went there every year for vacation," she said of the house he named "Joy Cottage."
That, she said, "was like heaven on Earth."
Dr. Willard, 77, who practiced internal medicine with a specialty in endocrinology, died Saturday, Dec. 12, of Alzheimer's complications at the Brandywine Senior Living Center in Voorhees.
After graduating from Tufts Medical School and completing his residencies, Dr. Willard and his family moved in the 1970s to Princeton, where he established a private practice, had season football and basketball tickets for the university's teams, and was graduate chairman of the Terrace Club, one of the famed eating clubs.
Even though Dr. Willard hadn't been involved in the club for several years due to illness, he made a lasting impression on the students. They recently commissioned a portrait of Dr. Willard that now hangs in their house.
"He worked his way into their hearts," his daughter said.
Dr. Willard also oversaw drug studies for BristolMyers Squibb and was proud that he helped develop Captopril, a breakthrough drug used by diabetes patients to treat heart disease and other illnesses.
In the mid-90s, he spent a year in Russia working at an American clinic and traveled throughout Eastern Europe. Later, with his second wife, Margaret, he would see more of the world, including China, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Twelve years ago, at age 65, Dr. Willard retired when he recognized early symptoms of his disease.
"He voluntarily stepped out," said Sullivan. "He had a high-enough level of understanding of what was going on."
Besides his wife and daughter, Dr. Willard is survived by a son, Edward; daughters Catherine Jenks and Sarah Steinhauer; five siblings; and 10 grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife, Patricia.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill, 401 Kings Highway N.