David B. Colwell
David B. Colwell August 7, 1934—August 28, 2014
David Barnes Colwell was born in Susquehanna, PA, but moved to Montrose, PA when he was in the primary grades. He began his schooling in South Montrose in a one-room school.
Dave graduated from MHS (now MAHS) in 1952.
He graduated from the old Lake Ave. high school.
Dave always spoke very highly of his teachers, including Mr. Robert Snyder, Mrs. Marjorie Hinds, and Mr. Dayton Birchard. He credited Mrs. Lewis at the elementary level for being the one who “turned him on” to reading, which became one of his lifelong passions. (Of course, he had many other favorite teachers not listed here.)
Following high school, David went to Syracuse University to study journalism. He was always fond of writing.
He left Syracuse University before completing the program because of financial reasons. He had a partial scholarship, but not nearly enough. College loans were less common then. At the time, Dave’s parents were supporting a family of six children.
Not long after leaving Syracuse University, David served in the U.S. Army, first stationed in Colorado and later in Alaska.
After his time in the Army, he was able to pursue his career as a journalist. His relatively brief career in journalism included working for three different newspapers---first one in New York State, then one in Pennsylvania, and finally one in Ohio.
David is seen here visiting his parents. At this time, David was a reporter.
Within 2 years of this photo, David was severely stricken with Multiple Sclerosis at age 28.
With M.S., the lack of mobility complicated the rest of David’s life. The immediate impact, in the years when the handicapped had limited access and few rights, employment was a major problem. Now unable to drive a car or to walk unassisted, Dave moved back to Montrose from Ohio to convalesce and to look for employment. He was never again able to pursue journalism as a career.
When David moved back home to Montrose in 1962, he probably never fully realized that this would remain his home for the rest of his life.
While he initially accepted very low-paying, unskilled jobs, David finally obtained more meaningful forms of employment. From 1964 until his death in 2014, David was never unemployed, often working more than one job at a time.
He spent decades working in the Susquehanna County Historical Society and Library, spent years working in the Susquehanna County Courthouse Communication Center, and was elected Montrose tax collector for seven consecutive 4-year terms.
He lived very modestly and very frugally. Many who knew him well considered him a political liberal and an economic conservative. Those beliefs were likely shaped by the fact that he was a child during the Great Depression and because FDR was really the only president in Dave’s formative years.
David never liked to think of himself as handicapped. At times, he could grow indignant if someone were to offer too much help.
After his parents passed away, he lived independently and maintained a wide range of interests, often being an activist of sorts in local, state and national causes. While he would not spend much money on himself, he donated monies—to the best of his abilities—to causes he deemed worthwhile and important. For example, he was an early and a consistent supporter of WVIA--- PBS and NPR.
Dave found a lot of pleasure caring for his dog. David is pictured here, in the early 1990s, with his dog, Victoria---likely his all-time favorite pet.
David was a voracious reader of both fiction and nonfiction. He used reading to promote his knowledge of gardening, one of his lifelong interests. At his home, he raised many types of flowers and vegetables.
Family and friends gathered at a local restaurant to help Dave celebrate his 80th birthday on August 7, 2014.
Three weeks after his 80th birthday, on August 24, 2014, David passed away.
Because of the way David led his life, he was able to leave behind funds to help young adults growing up in the surrounding area for a long time to come.
David Colwell believed in the vision and the leadership of the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains. He believed strongly enough in the Foundation to bequeath his life savings to them. He knew they would be good stewards of the funds and give those funds wisely to help others.