The Proclamation Ale family is deeply saddened to share the news that our founder and friend Dave Witham has passed away only a month after his cancer diagnosis. We join his wife Lori and their young daughter in mourning his loss, and celebrating his remarkable life.
Dave’s vision, and Lori’s unwavering support, led to Proclamation’s founding in West Kingston in 2014. In the early days, Proclamation Ale Company, aka PROC, had one purpose: to provide delicious and exciting new beer to the local market. Dave’s passion built something that quickly became a success and quickly spread beyond just our small state of RI. It was a long way from the day when Dave crafted his first brew with a homebrew kit his friend gave him as a wedding present.
Dave once described the transition from being a music teacher to a brewer as “a rash decision”, which led to a 14-hour a day job of “mopping, squeegeeing, wet feet, hosing stuff down, mopping some more, doing taxes, doing taxes again, filing brewers reports, answering the question, ‘Bro, where’s Tendril?,’ lifting heavy objects repeatedly, burns and finally having a beer.” He loved every minute of it, and it showed.
Powered by Dave’s “all-out, no Plan-B, go-for-it approach”, Proclamation grew to an expanded location in Warwick in 2017. The new space made it possible for Dave to continue to brew, serve, and sell creative and delicious beer but to even more people. At the same time, it also provided an exciting, fun, and creative taproom space in which the community could come drink, socialize, and play arcade games.. The anniversary of the founding of the brewery in mid-February was always a highlight of the year for Dave, which included scratch tickets and give-aways, games like Plinko, old movies playing on a continuous loop, food trucks lined up right outside the door, and maybe even an appearance by Dave’s alter ego, Chip Mendelson.
Dave’s public spiritedness and his commitment to the community that made Proclamation a success shone brightly earlier this year when COVID hit. Forced to close the taproom and pivot to drive-up sales, Proclamation made a name for itself by being creative and relevant. A number of pandemic and quarantine based beers were made, but by far the most successful was the collaboration with Frog & Toad. Adapting Gov. Raimondo’s trademark phrase “Knock it Off!” Dave and the Proclamation team brewed Knock It Off ale. The brew was an instant hit, selling over 200 cases in a day and even needing to cut off daily sales to control crowds.
Dave was proud of the fact that the brew not only lifted the spirits of the community, but also generated enough sales for Proclamation to donate over $10,000 to the Rhode Island Foundation to support those hardest hit by COVID-19. Recently, a second production run labeled “Knock It Off: The Sequel” sold out in only two weeks.
The team at Proclamation Ale will continue to be inspired by Dave’s passion for brewing and the enthusiasm and joy his art provided our many amazing customers. The business will honor his name and his legacy by continuing operations and providing high quality beer to loyal customers in Rhode Island, New England, and throughout the country.
While Dave had always taken a collaborative approach within his team, earlier this year he began even more so to prepare his highly skilled, dedicated team of managers for the future by sharing the wisdom he had acquired over the years and delegating more responsibility to them. Dave was grateful to be able to leave the brewery in such committed, dedicated, and capable hands. He was proud of them all – and inspired by that community that embraced and relished his work.
Dave’s services will be private at this time, but everyone should be ready to gather together at Proclamation to celebrate his life, friendship, and unmatched personality once it is safe to do so.
Dave’s other passion was music and aside from the years he spent teaching and playing, he was very proud of his daughter’s budding talent in music. Memorial donations can be made to RIOT RI (Formerly Girls Rock! RI) by linking here, or at 769 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903.