Born in Utah, Mr. Hettig went on to graduate from Stanford University in 1965, then earned a master's degree in history at UCLA and pursued a doctorate in that field before going to law school at the University of San Francisco.
He volunteered with local YMCAs, receiving the Distinguished Service Award in 1998. He also co-founded the Aurora Foundation for human rights with Ginetta Sagan, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 at the White House as Mr. Hettig watched. According to friends, his human rights work included international missions to covertly move funds into Poland to support the families of political prisoners.
Mr. Hettig was, according to friends, an adventurous man who trekked through Nepal, rafted down white-water rivers, and explored the upper reaches of the Mekong and Salween rivers in China and Tibet. Earthbound pursuits made room for airborne travels when Mr. Hettig earned a pilot's license.
He is survived by his wife Nan, of Menlo Park; his brother Richard of Melbourne, Australia, and an extended family.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (505 E. Charleston Road in Palo Alto).
Visit tinyurl.com/David-723 to share memories.
Visit tinyurl.com/YMCA-723 to make a donation in his name to the YMCA of East Palo Alto.