David William Cain

November 5, 1941 ~ July 31, 2021 (age 79)


On Saturday, July 31, 2021, David William Cain passed away at the age of 79.

He was born to William and Lura (Howe) Cain on November 5, 1941 in St. Louis, MO. He graduated from Brentwood High School and then completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University. After a year of study at King’s College in London on a Fulbright scholarship, David attended Yale Divinity School where he completed a Master of Divinity degree and met and married his wife Marlyne. He and Marlyne moved back to Princeton where he completed master’s and doctoral degrees in Systematic Theology. David was also an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ.

In 1970 David began his 44-year career at the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Fredericksburg, Va. He was a founding member of the Department of Classics, Philosophy and Religion, and retired in 2014 as a Distinguished Professor of Religion and a highly regarded teacher and scholar. In 1992, David received the Grellet C. Simpson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He was known for his dynamic lectures and ability to capture the imagination of his students.

A Kierkegaard scholar with an international reputation, David published many articles and manuscripts at the intersection of religion and theology. He served as president of the Søren Kierkegaard Society from 1997 to 1998 and was a visiting senior scholar at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at Copenhagen University in Denmark. In 1997, he published the book An Evocation of Kierkegaard, and later he edited several volumes of the work of theologian and philosopher Arthur C. McGill. He was also active in the American Academy of Religion.

David was an important part of the life of UMW and surrounding community. He loved theater, and over the years he took part in many Mary Washington drama productions. David had a deep love of musical theater as well as a passion for literature, poetry, photography, and music.

David is survived by Marlyne; two daughters Sarah Naylor (Eddie) and Kristin Geary (Seamus); five grandchildren Conor, Annalise, and Hadley Geary, and Noah and Leah Naylor; as well as numerous cousins.

A private burial will be held in Kirkwood, MO, and a memorial service will be held at a later date in the Fredericksburg area. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the David Cain Memorial Fund at the University of Mary Washington (1119 Hanover Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, or


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