Actor David Heath Passes Away

It is with sadness that we share the news of the loss of another great talent in the audio drama world. Actor and ATC Seneca Award winner , ...

It is with sadness that we share the news of the loss of another great talent in the audio drama world. Actor and ATC Seneca Award winner, David Cochran Heath has passed away at the age of 69. He died after a fight with pancreatic cancer on Sunday, August 14, 2022. 

David Heath lent his voice to many audio drama productions during his voice acting career, including Jonathan Park and The Adventum. David's longest-running audio drama role was as the Narrator for Paws and Tales. He narrated all 69 episodes in seasons 1 - 3. 

David Carl, the creator of Paws and Tales, remembers meeting him for the first time.

I believe I met David for the first time in 1999 as he auditioned for Paws & Tales. Eric [Baesel] and I listened to his performance and looked at each other in surprise. We knew instantly he was our warm, folksy and welcoming Narrator. David was always the consummate professional and a pleasure to work with. I miss you David and I look forward to being welcomed by you to our true home one day.

David Heath left an impression on others that worked on that show too. Eric Baesel, sound designer and voice of Ned, relates how important David Heath was to the program.

Most of the Paws and Tales episodes were recorded after the production team relocated from Anaheim, CA to Plano, TX in 2001. While we chose to recast some of our characters when we got to Texas, there were some that simply could not be replaced. David King is Paw Paw Chuck. Susan Claussen is Gooz. David brought a warmth to our narrator that perfectly captured the time and place of Wildwood. His friendly, folksy presence offered an irresistible invitation to “sit a spell” and hear a good story. David made you want to listen.

There is a part of production that is a bit like Christmas. When all of the voice tracks, scores, and lesson songs finally arrive on the editing desk, the unwrapping of each wonderful element and the anticipation of putting them all together to make something shiny and new is not unlike a kid opening his presents on Christmas morning. I got to have the fun of joining the scores to David’s narrations and being the first one to go on the journeys he’d invite the listeners to. Those journeys are ones my family has taken over and over and thousands of others who have listened to Paws and Tales over the years have enjoyed. While I will miss talking to David about his faith, his family, and the adventures of being a voice artist, I am grateful I can still journey along with him every time I hear him say, “Howdy and welcome to Wildwood.”


David Heath also recorded many audiobooks: over 130 of them. Some of those included reading the entire Bible in the KJV, ESV, and NIrV. Eric Baesel remembers hearing one of those for the first time.

Many years ago, my wife and I started a Bible study that had an audio Bible as a companion to the study guide. I remember the first time I heard David’s voice reading Scripture to me from the speaker across the room and thought, “Hey! I know that guy.” Of course, David was in demand as a voice artist, I knew that. But at once it became real for me. David will always be with me in two of the things I will enjoy for the rest of my life, God’s Word and Paws and Tales.

There were many people that came in contact with David Heath during his acting years. Those roles impacted the audience and the crew. Writer/director/actor John Fornof tells about his time working with him.

I had the honor of directing David Heath on the Jonathan Park audio drama series and on The Adventum, when he played Moses. But it was an even deeper honor to play the role of Aaron alongside this veteran actor. As we played our role as brothers, David brought out the good-natured humor and the emotional tugs of each scene. His sense of nuance and dynamic range, from righteous wrath to caring tenderness, made this one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had. It was no surprise he won the Seneca Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Moses.

David put his heart into his roles, and you can hear it in these productions. His work is stellar. Most people associate Charlton Heston with Moses. David did such an excellent job that he's the voice I hear when I read Moses in the Bible now. It turned out to be one of his last roles to play.

David was one of the few people from the Original Adventures of Jonathan Park to act in the New Adventures. One of the people who worked with him on the Original Adventures was writer and actor, Andrew Riffenburgh. Andrew relates some of the experiences he had with David.

I personally directed him as the Effendi for the scenes he appeared in album 9 Jonathan Park and the Whispering Sphinx. He ended up doing all of those lines in a single day. 

Originally, we had a different actor play the Effendi, but for one reason or another Pat Roy...brought in David because he had been Alexander Demarcus in album 7 and Newton Bracewell in album 6 (we shared a lot of recording time during those). Dad [Duane Riffenburgh] and David were both in studio together when they recorded the submarine race. 

I think at first David thought it was a little unusual for me to be directing the Effendi, because our usual director Kathryn Mokan wasn't there at that point (As I recall it was late in the day). But as we went on I think both of us were really happy with the results. It seemed like he enjoyed my direction and he found different nuances in the character that I knew because Dad and I had been writing for him the whole time. He was great to direct and has such a great voice (I can't help but think of Paws and Tales when I hear him. He told me they were looking for a Rex Allen sounding voice from the Disney live action animal films from the 60s, which I thought was neat).

We weren't there for all the recordings of [album] 10 and any work we did was from home. But he was fun as "Paco" on Snake Island, when I heard it later. David Heath was a true professional who gave life to many great characters.

Even though David Heath had many voice acting credits, he had even more on the stage. He performed in over 140 productions at The Lamb's Players Theatre. Some of his stage roles included Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Toad, Atticus Finch, and even Aslan.

Even near the end of his life, David Heath was inspiring to others. John Fornof remembers one of those moments.

When I got the news about his cancer, I called David. He was unexpectedly upbeat, almost to the point of enthusiastic. Most of us have the goal of living well, of living life to the fullest. But David shared with me his goal now: "I want to die well." He wanted to make the most of every moment left.

David, you achieved your goal. The way you faced your challenge inspires all of us to live all of life well, including death. The work you did here remains with us as your loving tribute to God. Thank you. We're grateful to God for granting us the gift of you.

David Heath's voice and personality will be missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.

You can hear David's Seneca Awards acceptance speech in ATC152 at the 01:40:38 timestamp.

David Heath's obituary from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

What was your favorite role that David Heath played? Let us know in the comments!

Austin Peachey is a die-hard reader and audio drama fan. He ran the Adventures in Odyssey Blog for over 12 years and has produced a few audio dramas of his own, including FaithFilled Stories. He's also helped work on the 2nd edition of The Official Guide to Odyssey and is a member of the Audio Drama Alliance.


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