David Allen Coryell


David Allen Coryell, 67, of Lewisburg, passed away on March 26, 2019, at his home after valiantly fighting cancer for several years.

He was predeceased by his parents, David and Patricia (Snyder) Coryell; and his sister, Victoria "Vicky" Coryell.

He is survived by his daughters, Cary Lee Coryell of Reston, Va., and Abigail Iris Coryell of Los Angeles; his sister, Patricia Ann "Pat" Coryell and her spouse Heather McGowan of Boston and New York; his sister, Janet Dorothea Coryell of Erie; his beloved dog, Maggie; his granddog Melchior, who he shamelessly spoiled; and many faithful friends as well as a large community of writers and academics, former students, fly fishermen and body builders, bikers and dog lovers from many states.

David was born in Sunbury in 1951 and spent most of his youth in Erie, Pa., graduating from McDowell Senior High School, where he played football on an undefeated team coached by the legendary Joe Moore. He attended Susquehanna University and was a member of its football team for three years, in addition to serving on the student newspaper and the university's literary magazine. After earning a master's degree in English from Mansfield University, David moved to New England, where he worked as a poet in the schools for the New Hampshire Arts Commission. In 1980, he was awarded the highly competitive Henry Hoyns Fellowship in fiction writing from the University of Virginia, where he was mentored by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Peter Taylor and completed an MFA in creative writing. In Charlottesville, he was able to marry his love of athletics and writing, joining the UVA football athletic department as the chief academic coordinator under another storied head coach, George Welsh. He married Mary C. Still and together they started a family. David moved on to the University of South Carolina to lead its academic advising program and later to Syracuse University as an administrator in its honors program. He taught screenwriting, film noir, indie film and documentary film at Syracuse's University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications until 2015.

David was a prolific creative writer. He wrote a dozen screenplays as well as numerous short stories, poems and other works. Friends and family members to whom he wrote letters were the fortunate recipients of near-novellas. In 2004, he directed the documentary North of 49 about the burning of a Sikh temple in upstate New York. In 2009, he co-authored the textbook Survival Guide for Screenwriters with Walter Kirsch. Now, a television series based on his screenplay "Medicine Game" is in development.

While in Syracuse, David worked closely with the nearby Onondaga Nation, helping to facilitate a partnership between Syracuse University and the People of the Hills. As a descendent of Conrad Weiser, a respected negotiator between the Iroquois and the English, David carried on the tradition of bringing people together and creating harmony. And just as the Oneida leader, Shikellamy, became friends with Weiser, David became friends with singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah and the Shenandoah family, the Oneidas, whose ancestor Skenandoa was one of those Weiser came to know. David honored the family by taking an active part in the mourning rituals of Maisie Shenandoah, the Oneida clanmother. He was a mentor to Tyler Hill, Onondaga, and a riding partner of Doug George-Kanentiio, Mohawk.

Later in life, David developed a circle of Harley-riding friends with whom he traversed rural New York and Pennsylvania roads. On one such afternoon, he and friend Dennis Kinsey came over the crest of a hill to the scene of a serious auto accident; the two men assisted the victims and remained with them until emergency personnel arrived. They were later honored for their heroism by the American Red Cross.

David left New York in 2015 to return to Pennsylvania, to be near his aging mother, his ancestors, and the Susquehanna River. As his living family members fanned out across the country, David's life centered on the rolling farmlands and trout streams of central Pennsylvania. He lived in a farmhouse on a windswept pass of land that was a thoroughfare for Amish horse buggies. He taught film classes for Bucknell University's extension school and continued writing his own screenplays while staying in touch with a fleet of Syracuse and UVA alums and athletes.

David's passing leaves a hole in our hearts and our lives, but whenever we catch a glimpse of a cardinal outside our windows or hear the tinkling of a wind chime twisting in the breeze, we know he is with us. In accordance with the Iroquois tradition that he found reassuring, he is now released to the stars.

A memorial service for David will be held at Shikellamy State Park in Selinsgrove, Pa. on June 2, 2019 at 1 p.m.

Arrangements are by the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home, 395 State St., Sunbury.
Published on May 9, 2019
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7 posts

Ken law
May 26, 2019
David. Into. Paradise may the angels lead you, I wish I had known, Why did you give up on me? I love you, buddy. Always have and always will. Pax vobiscum.
Michael Schoonmaker
May 19, 2019
I worked with David when he taught at Syracuse University. David brought an intense dedication to each and every one of his students and distinctive warmth and kindness to those of us who worked with him over the years.

Those who knew David personally were recipients of his overflowing fountain of kindness and compassion. It was just what he did, and how he approached life and work - simple and straightforward. After being honored, along with Dennis Kinsey, for heroism by the Red Cross in 2014, he offered his own humble take on what “heroism” was to him:

“I never thought what Dennis and I did was heroic. When I rode up on that scene of sunny, surreal violence and sudden death, the o
...nly right thing to do was to pull over and see if I could help. Everyone gets a turn to step up, some more than others, and that was mine; nothing more.”

And if there is a place in heaven where people congregate to tell stories, David will certainly be found there, writing his next screenplay and helping others with theirs.
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Shawn Moore
May 16, 2019
I am saddened to read this news about the passing of Dave. He was my first introduction to the University of Virginia academically. He was one of my biggest supporters during times of struggle and doubt. I will miss you Dave and know that you are up there in Heaven having stimulating conversations with my brother D Hammond. RIP
Shawn Moore
Anne Schmid
May 16, 2019
I first met Dave a couple of years ago when he was in need of a ride to and from the Ambulatory Surgical Center due to a procedure that prevented him from driving due to sedation. He was an instructor at the Bucknell Institute of Learning and I attended classes there on occasion. Having recently retired and also being new to the area, I volunteered to help out.

I found him to be very engaging and informative about the film industry. He regaled me with stories of his time spent in Hollywood and all the projects he was involved in.

My next encounter with Dave was as a student in one of his classes about documentary film making. There too he had all kinds of stories to share. I think everyo
...ne was quite surprised at the suddenness of his death. I don't think anyone was aware at how ill he was. He appeared to be a very private person. I am so glad I had the opportunity to have his path cross mine. Definitely left a footprint on my memory.Read more
Kenneth Miles
May 15, 2019
I am so saddened by all of this. I was unaware so this comes as a surprise. Dave, you really were an inspiration to me. Who would have known that I would essentially do what you did for us at UVa as the Academic Director at Syracuse University. That was why I was so adamant in bringing you back to work with our student-athletes at SU. You were still teaching and developing young minds. The bond between you and James Mungro was awesome to see. It was organic just like our days in Charlottesville. Thank you Dave for being an integral part of life. Thank you for being a reference for my current position at LSU. And most importantly, thank you for being my friend! I am honored to have known you.... Rest In Peace my friend!!!Read more
Barb Andreassen
May 15, 2019
David and I crossed paths due to motorcycling many years ago. We had not spoke in a very long time, but I remember his passion for riding. My sincere sympathies to your family.
Karen DiPietro
May 10, 2019
I met David and found him not only intellectual but very interesting. We connected regarding our love for wolves and our love and respect for The People of the Longhouse. Foremost, David loved his daughters Cary and Abby. I came to love them too. David helped me on various occasions in preparing for Federal Inspections and just simply desiring the company of my wolves. I do believe the memory of David can be heard in the wind
chimes as will the howl of the wolf. I believe
he will always live within his girls, and they will manifest some aspect of him. God rest you David, your life has made a difference.