AMerican Veteran 13

David Chiappini

August 11, 1948 ~ October 15, 2023 (age 75) 75 Years Old

David Chiappini Obituary

Hal David Chiappini, 75, of Melrose, Florida, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on October 15, 2023.


David was a lifelong resident of Melrose, FL, born to Francis and Claire Chiappini on August 11, 1948, in Gainesville, FL, at Alachua General Hospital. He was the second oldest of six children: Heidi Bender (Dexter), Nick Chiappini (Thea), Robin Chiappini, Mark Chiappini, and Lily Blanchet (Pierre).


He attended Melrose school from the beginning years through twelfth grade. He enlisted into the Air Force before graduating high school in 1966 and was enlisted for four years. David married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn P. Buz, in 1968. In 1970, they moved to a rental house on Lake Whitcomb, and David enrolled in Santa Fe College, working in part with the Santa Fe Zoo.


In 1972, David and Marilyn welcomed their first-born son, Michael, into the world. A year later, they bought a house on the same lake and still reside on this property today. In 1975, they welcomed their second-born son, Andrew.


David's father, Francis Chiappini, owned Chiappini's, a local Gulf station still currently owned and operated by David's brothers Robin and Mark, and in 1974, David went to work with his father. He worked there for ten years. During this time, David and Marilyn began raising market hogs, which turned into a 40-year venture.


In 1981, David, along with his wife and kids, traveled to Colorado with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, John and Carolyn Dykes. They fell in love with the little western town of Gunnison. This began a lifelong dream to build and own a cabin in the high country.


Tragically, also in 1981, their lake house in Melrose burned down on Halloween night while the family was out trick-or-treating. They came home that night to the devastation of losing their home. David and Marilyn wasted no time rebuilding, and the new house was completed four and a half months later in 1982 with the help of friends and family.


After leaving the family business at Chiappini's, David found his passion in Horticulture. He decided to start a nursery in 1988. That soon ventured into growing Florida native plants around 1991. He began growing native trees and shrubs under contract for Wetland Mitigations. David joined the AFNN (Association of Florida Native Nurseries) and became president in 1996. He remained president until 2009. While president, he advocated for D.O.T. to help the association fund a book about native plant landscaping and identification. Gil Nelson wrote this beautifully illustrated guide to native plants. The book "Florida's Best Native Landscaping Plants: 200 Readily Available Species for Homeowners and Professionals" was published in 2003.


David and Marilyn finally purchased land in Colorado from his brother-in-law in 2010 and soon started building their dream cabin. From this point on, he spent every summer in Colorado. Building began with the garage and continued to the house using his Florida milled lumber. He had already acquired a sawmill in 2006. He hauled all of his lumber to Colorado when he was ready to begin building. The cabin, situated with the grandest view of the Continental Divide, is entirely off-grid and self-sustainable, using only wind and solar generation for electricity. With David's love and knowledge of native plants, he insisted on fencing in his Colorado acreage to keep the local free-ranging livestock off the fragile ecosystem, leaving it for the natural native habitat.


With the completion of the Colorado cabin, David longed to keep building things. An 1800s southern style Dogtrot was his next project. He chose a beautiful spot beside his nursery across the lake from their home. Construction was completed in 2016. The iconic outhouse put the finishing touches to his vision there at the Dogtrot. Many family gatherings at this cabin will be forever cherished in memory.


David leaves behind the love of his life, Marilyn Chiappini, son Michael Chiappini; son and daughter-in-law Andrew and Stephanie Chiappini; four grandchildren: Kelsey Harrison, Hayden Chiappini, Evan Chiappini, and Kahne Chiappini; two great-grandchildren: Jayce Harrison and Freya Harrison; David's brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews; many, many friends; and his beloved dog Sage.


A Celebration of the life of David Chiappini will be on December 30, 2023, at 2:00 pm at his Nursery Dogtrot cabin. The address is 150 Chiappini Farm Road, Hawthorne, FL 32640. All friends, family, and associates are welcome.


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