David Earl Wiest

Contractor known in Ten Hills as a generous neighbor always ready to help with home projects

March 07, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

David Earl Wiest, a contractor who was known throughout his Ten Hills neighborhood for his generosity in assisting residents with their home improvement and landscaping projects as well as snow removal, died Monday of a heart attack at his home there. He was 44.

Mr. Wiest returned to his Stamford Road home late Monday morning after having cleared walkways and driveways of snow when he complained of not feeling well.

"He did our street and a lot of our neighbors' houses. We have several elderly people who live near us, and he did their walkways first. That was always a priority with him," said his wife, the former Kim Antoniacci. The couple would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary next month.

"A neighbor called and told me she was going to bake some chocolate chip cookies for him," Mrs. Wiest said.

"When he came in, he said he wasn't feeling well, took an aspirin, and sat down. He was breathing really heavily, and then I called an ambulance," she said. "He then collapsed and died in our home."

The news of Mr. Wiest's death quickly swept through the tightly knit neighborhood.

"Dave's death was shocking and is a big loss for the community. He was a legend," said Irvin M. Sutton, a postal worker whose Woodside Road home overlooks the Wiests' backyard.

"It's hard to believe because death has no date, time or number. But for Dave, it came far too early," he said. "I told Kim our neighborhood family would take care of her as Dave had taken care of us."

Mr. Wiest was born in Harrisburg, Pa., and was raised in Mechanicsburg, Pa. After graduating from Mechanicsburg High School, where he played varsity basketball, he enrolled at Susquehanna University in Selingsgrove, Pa., where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1987.

After college, Mr. Wiest moved to Boston and later Asbury Park, N.J., where he had held various jobs.

In the early 1990s, he was working at QDI, a division of Quanta Systems Corp., a Gaithersburg engineering services company, when he met his future wife.

Mr. Wiest was working as a telemarketing manager for the company and later entered the home improvement business.

After establishing and selling the Liquid Siding Co. in 2006, he established Save-On Painting Co. the next year. He also worked on historic restoration projects.

The couple have lived in Ten Hills since 1999.

"He took pride in his home and made it a showplace. He had taken a rundown house and restored the house and landscaping," said James L. Stofan, a senior NASA executive, who lives on nearby Drury Lane and has been a friend for eight years.

"Dave was the neighborhood and one of those people you get to meet once or twice in your lifetime," he said. "He defined what it is to be a good human being and derived great pleasure from making other people happy."

If homeowners had problems, it was Mr. Wiest they turned to for help.

"No job was too big, small or complicated. Dave would figure it out. He'd find a solution," Mr. Stofan said. "He was over at our house last Sunday, where he was doing a kitchen and bathroom restoration."

Mr. Wiest and his wife enjoyed working and landscaping their yard together.

"He and Kim were out there weeding, edging and mulching from the time the sun rose until it set," Mr. Stofan said. "In the spring, I'd drive by their home just to see their flowers."

Mr. Sutton said that when he and his wife, Barbara, moved to their home in 2005, Mr. Wiest made them feel welcome.

"When it came to my house, he helped me step up my game," said Mr. Sutton, laughing. "He showed me what to do, and no matter whatever it was, he was there to help."

Because none of the yards in the neighborhood is fenced, they serve as a venue for socializing.

"They had a patio, and we'd go over there for drinks, cookouts and parties. We would sit out under the stars until the wee hours having a good time," Mr. Sutton said.

Eight years ago, Becky and Greg Brower moved to their home, which is two doors away from the Wiests'.

"Dave loved the neighborhood, and his house and yard were a tribute to it. His front yard was an eye-popper," Mrs. Brower said. "He took great joy when someone moved in and took an interest in their yard. They instantly became a soulmate."

Mr. Wiest was an active member of the Ten Hills Community Association. He liked watching basketball and was a Redskins fan.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. tomorrow at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 4711 Edmondson Ave.

Also surviving are a stepdaughter, Colleen Rose O'Malley, 14; his mother, Dorothy Wiest of Mechanicsburg; a brother, Richard Wiest of Darlington; and two sisters, Deborah Langella of Brielle, N.J., and Patricia Wiest of Inverness, Fla.

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