Teacher, chess coach Buchheit remembered for passion for lifelong learning

  • David Buchheit

    David Buchheit

By Eileen O, Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 4/6/2021 6:00 PM

David Buchheit taught science for more than 30 years in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and spent another 20 in adult community education.

However, his legacy may lie in the chess teams he coached and his role in growing the activity among schools in the Illinois High School Association.


Buchheit died April 1 at the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights. He was 80.

Family members describe Buchheit as a lifelong learner who was passionate about teaching. He was among the founding faculty members at Forest View High School in Arlington Heights when it opened in 1963, teaching science.

He remained there until it closed in 1986, then spent the next eight years teaching physics and chemistry at Elk Grove High School.

Buchheit founded the chess team at Forest View and continued coaching at Elk Grove High. His enthusiasm for the game and his active role as a coach led to his selection as a member of the IHSA chess advisory committee.

"It's quite selective and not just anybody is on it," said Mike Zacate, who organized the first state chess tournament for the IHSA in 1975 and chaired its advisory committee until 2017.

The advisory committee meets once a year with IHSA officials to discuss rule changes and procedures, and ultimately review the state tournament. Buchheit served as an advisor during the first three years he coached at Elk Grove, from 1986 to 1988.

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According to Zacate, those were years when the advisory board expanded the state tournament from five to six rounds, to accommodate the growing numbers of schools participating.

The board also moved the state tournament from individual high schools to its first permanent site, Illinois State University in Bloomington.

"Those were really formative years, when we were able to put chess on equal footing with other sports and activities across the state," Zacate said.

Scott Johnson, who retired as assistant executive director of the IHSA last year, said chess blossomed during the years Buchheit served as a coach and advisory board member, with nearly one-quarter of its member schools having chess teams.

"By 2020, more than 150 schools participated in the IHSA state series, a number that was down only slightly during this year's virtual state finals," Johnson said. "Chess is a head-to-head competition, but being part of a high school chess team teaches players to work together toward a common goal, in addition to the analytical skills that are such an important part of the game."


After Buchheit retired from full-time teaching, he continued to advocate for lifelong learning by supervising the adult education site at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights until 2013.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ruth, and is survived by his daughters, Ruth (Chris) Gagliano and Bonnie (Rob) Foster, and two grandsons.

Services will begin with visitation at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday until the time of the funeral at 1 p.m., all at St. Peter Lutheran Church, 111 W. Olive St. in Arlington Heights.

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