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David A. Polefka

June 20, 1939 - April 19, 2018

Obituary Viewed 2642 times

Dr. David A. Polefka
June 20 1939 – April 19, 2018
Dr. David A. Polefka, Big Horn, Wyo.
Loving parent, great intellect, mental health professional served Northern Wyoming for more than 30 years [d. Sheridan Wyo, April 19, 2018]
David Polefka was born in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, June 20 1939, to Joseph and Helen Polefka. After high school, he graduated from Lehigh University with degrees in Physics and Psychology. He was active in the Lehigh Glee Club, and once played the lead role in Faust.
Polefka then attended Stanford University for graduate study in psychology. He met the woman who would become his loving wife and life companion of half a century, Vistara Parham, in Missoula Montana in 1967, while he served as an assistant professor at the University of Montana.
Dr. Polefka and Ms. Parham returned to Palo Alto together in 1970, where he resumed his doctoral research. That year their first son, Rama O. Polefka of Cupertino, California, was born. Dave completed his research and earned his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1976, despite at one point losing the only typed copy of his thesis while he and Ms. Parham were hitchhiking in Mexico.
It was in Palo Alto that Dave and Vistara began their study and practice of yoga and meditation, a journey that would guide the rest of their lives together and established in their family deep rooted values of compassion and service.
Their second son, Shiva Polefka of Washington D.C., was born in Vancouver, Washington in 1979. In 1981, the family moved to Sheridan when Dr. Polefka accepted a job at the Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center.
There, Dave served as a mental health professional and substance abuse specialist for 25 years, treating countless patients in the Sheridan County community. Dr. Polefka also served as a counselor and therapist for men and women of the U.S. military at the Sheridan Veterans Administration hospital, where he worked for the final five years of his career before retiring in 2010.
Complementing his service to the people of Northern Wyoming, Dr. Polefka benefitted from tremendous love, support and generosity from friends, neighbors and colleagues throughout the Sheridan County community, who provided kindness and assistance to him throughout the years.
In retirement, Dr. Polefka enjoyed visiting the Fulmer Public Library, reading innumerable books, and exploring the beautiful landscapes and backroads of Northern Wyoming.
During their lives together in Big Horn, Dave and Vistara manually planted hundreds of trees and native plants on their property, transforming a windswept plain into what today is an extraordinary habitat area for wildlife. Today, despite the perennial Red Grade winds and the 2007 Little Goose Fire, the trees they planted and tended together stand tall. The Bighorn chapter of the Audubon Society visits monthly to view the extraordinary diversity and abundance of migratory birds that inhabit them.
Dr. Polefka is survived by his wife Vistara, his brother Joseph of Hingham, Massachusetts, sons Rama and Shiva, stepson Martin Pieracci, and two grandchildren.
The Bighorn Audubon Society ( has launched a project in Dave’s honor to purchase and install bluebird houses on Red Grade. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to support this project, or to the Powder River Basin Resource Council.