As a youngster, Duluthian Dave Haavik was no stranger to church.
He, along with his parents and siblings, found refuge inside the walls of Duluth’s First Lutheran Church, where he discovered his passion for singing.
“Growing up I felt I was in the shadows of my older siblings, which was tough because they were incredibly popular,” Haavik said. “I even started singing in the church choir in seventh grade because that’s what they did.”
Haavik, the youngest of four siblings, was raised in the Central Hillside neighborhood of Duluth on 26th Avenue East.
Haavik attended the University of Minnesota and received a degree from the College of Forestry with a degree in wood technology.
Shortly after, Haavik did what all of his siblings seemed to do and moved to where the jobs were.
In 1977, Haavik moved to Jackson, Miss., where he worked as a factory inspector for the National Particleboard Association.
After spending 17 years in Jackson, Haavik decided it was time to move on. He moved to Washington, D.C., where he was employed by the same company, only now he was stationed at its headquarters.
But Haavik said, “My heart has never been in my job like most people. It has always been in my hobbies.”
While in Washington, Haavik got in touch with his passion for singing and became a member of the Washington Chorus, now known as the National Symphony Orchestra. Haavik and his peers sang their way to a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Orchestral Performance.
Haavik speaks enthusiastically about his time spent with the Washington Chorus. He recalls singing backup for artists including Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys and Aretha Franklin.
In 2001, Haavik was laid off after 24 years of work. He spent the next five years living in Washington Grove, a gated community located on the outskirts of Washington. He refers to it as a similar community to that of Park Point but far more insular. Haavik described the community as “an oasis located inside of the metropolitan area.”
In 2006, Haavik’s mother fell ill, and he was ready to move back to his hometown of Duluth, where he planned on living with his mother. She passed away while Haavik was in the process of relocating.
Now, Haavik lives on Park Point. He’s been there for the past eight years. He sings for the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra as well as the choir of The First Lutheran Church.
Music Director at First Lutheran Church, Jason Branham, speaks highly of Haavik’s singing abilities as well as his character.
“He is an excellent singer and dedicated member of the church,” Branham said. “He is always able to lighten the mood and puts things into perspective, and that’s what I appreciate the most about Dave.”
Haavik also is a member of the Park Point Community Club.
Dawn Buck, president of the club, also had praise for Haavik.
“He’s a good neighbor, always helping out others and volunteering his time,” Buck said.
Buck also touched on an issue that the club has been facing involving public access to the beach on street ends.
“I am not opposed to the notion of creating these access points; however, most of my neighbors are,” Haavik said. “I like to think of myself as a friendly neighbor. Creating these access points would be a great way interact with new and interesting people.”
“We both share a love for people,” Buck said. “We are some of the few club members who support the movement for the public to access the beach on street ends.”
Buck said she remembers a line Haavik used during a recent meeting concerning public access to the beach. Haavik was speaking in support of such access.
“Why on earth would you live on Park Point if you don’t like people coming down to enjoy it?” he asked the club.
Haavik can often be found on Park Point riding his recumbent bicycle, on which he has put more than 55,000 miles. Or maybe he’s scooting over the water in his red Chrysler boat.
Either way, don’t be afraid to say, “Hi.” After all, he considers himself to be a “friendly neighbor.”