David McConnell Graybeal

David McConnell Graybeal, 95, passed away at his home early in the afternoon on June 2, 2017 just two weeks shy of his 96th birthday, surrounded by his loving Morristown family.

He lived a long and fruitful life and made a lasting impact on those who knew him. After serving in the Navy in WWII, he attended seminary at Yale and earned his Ph.D. in theology. Subsequently he served several churches in the Etowah, Tennessee area and then as chaplain at Emory and Henry College until 1956, when he and his young family moved to Madison, New Jersey where he joined the faculty of the Drew Theological Seminary.

He taught at Drew from 1956 until his “retirement” in 1996, but stayed on part-time for fifteen more years as an emeritus. He was a passionate and dedicated teacher, and delivered his favorite course, “The Good Community,” for more than 40 years. When he finally stepped away from teaching, accolades from more than five decades of former students poured in, illustrating the profound influence of his teachings.

He was, above all, a curious man, relentlessly fascinated by the workings of the mind and soul, a lifelong explorer who interviewed everyone he met: “And what do you do?” “How do you like that?” “How did you decide to get into that kind of work?” “What do you like to do when you have time off?” It was hard to get him to talk about himself, because he just wasn’t interested in talking about that. He was an optimist, a believer in the essential goodness of people, certain that things would and will work out in the end. He will long be remembered for his teachings, his encouragement for all who encountered him, and as a role model for a life well lived.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry Clay and June McConnell Graybeal; brothers, Charlton, Burke and Bill; and sister, Claire.

He is survived by his wife, Shirley; son, Chris Wallace and wife, Tonya, and their two children, Miracle and Heaven; former wife, Marjorie of Portland, Maine; daughter, Jean and husband, Vince of Sete, France; daughter, Lee of Kennebunk, Maine, and her son Daniel Peifer and his wife, Samantha of Williamsburg, Virginia; son, Clay and wife, Deb of Arundel, Maine; brother, Pat and wife, Jill of Hilton Head, South Carolina; and sisters-in-law, Jamie and Anne; and many nieces and nephews.

A reception for the Morristown family and friends will be held on Tuesday, June 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the fellowship hall of First United Methodist Church. The funeral and memorial service will be held in Emory, Virginia in the coming weeks.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any tributes be directed in his memory to the appropriate scholarships either at Emory and Henry College (contact Monica Hoel, Director of Alumni Affairs at mshoel@ehc.edu) or Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, NJ (Kenneth Alexo, VP for University Advancement at kalexojr@drew.edu).

Arrangements by Allen Funeral Home, Morristown.

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