David "Sarge" Tinga Passes Away

July 10, 2007

WINSTON-SALEM -- David "Sarge" Tinga, a former dedicated Wake Forest University athletic department employee for nearly 30 years, died Sunday at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He was 74.

A native of Santa Monica, Calif., Tinga spent 29 years at Wake Forest as athletics-equipment manager, retiring in 2002. He was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army, serving combat tours in Korea and Vietnam, and during his career was awarded the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars with Valor and a Purple Heart.

A memorial service is scheduled at 3 p.m. Friday at Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest campus.

Tinga was a beloved figure in the Demon Deacon athletic department even after his retirement. He will be missed greatly by former and current Wake Forest student-athletes, coaches and staff members.

During his tenure as Wake Forest's equipment manager, Tinga controlled, purchased and reconditioned millions of dollars worth of athletic inventory, including practice and game equipment as well as uniforms.

Tinga grew up in Pleasanton, Calif., just outside of Oakland. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school.

Tinga first came to Wake Forest in 1968 as an ROTC trainer. He was joined in Winston-Salem by his wife, Mary, and their two children. In 1970, Tinga returned to combat duty in Vietnam. Toward the end of the conflict he was severely injured, ending his military career.

His familiarity with Wake Forest and sports background combined with his knowledge of effective organization, made him a logical choice as equipment supervisor, which he took over in 1973.

Tinga received the Purple Heart on Nov. 11, 1992 - 21 years after a mine exploded under his truck on a road outside Saigon and ruined his left leg. The medal had been lost in paperwork two decades earlier.

Surviving are his wife of nearly 46 years, Mrs. Mary Lisenbee Tinga; a son, Michael David Tinga of Winston-Salem; a daughter, Patricia Lynne Francis (husband Kirk) of Winston-Salem; five grandchildren, Michael Tinga Jr. of Winston-Salem, Victoria Brooke Tinga of Umatilla, Fla., and Samantha Weisner (husband Mark) and Alex and Nicholas Francis, all of Winston-Salem; a great-grandson, David Weisner; a sister, Christine Tinga; and a brother, Eddie Tinga.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Wait Chapel. The family will receive friends after the service in the Sarge Tinga Equipment Room at Wake Forest University. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Cancer Research Department at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1021. Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

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