David Purnell sold Real Change for more than a decade. Meeting people and selling Real Change enriched his life. He loved his customers. Their inspiration and encouragement meant the world to him. He sold newspapers at the QFC on 15th Avenue and before that, at Trader Joe’s at 17th and Madison. 

In early 2013, David left Real Change and started a business called Grampa’s Landscaping. He did yard work for his customers and local businesses. He was a hard worker and confident about his new venture.

“The only thing I see that will stop me is if I don’t wake up in the morning,” he said.

David was born in Seattle and graduated from Garfield High School. His family still owns the house that his mother and father bought on 21st and Republican more than 60 years ago. David said his parents were the best a person could have.

“They taught us about being color-blind, just loving people, not being judgmental, and working for what you get; don’t look for handouts. They were full of love and morals and values.”

David had an unflappable manner and a great sense of humor. He did not take himself too seriously nor was he weighed down by all of his troubles, but sought to prevail over every obstacle.

Shortly after starting his new landscaping business, David passed away in July 2014. David will be missed by family and friends alike, as well as all of us at Real Change who appreciated his commitment to selling the paper as well as his occasional antics.


Laura Stokes worked at Herding Cats, LLC, attended University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Bremerton, WA.