David P. Shannon, whose life was defined by four careers as a Calvert Hall College High School educator, football coach, actor and antiques dealer, died Monday from complications of Parkinson’s disease at Gilchrist Center in Towson. The Parkville resident was 87.
“I knew Dave when I was a student here, and then when I taught at Calvert Hall for 21 years, and then when I was assistant principal,” said Joseph “Joe” Baker, who is now director of advancement at the school.
“He was just easygoing and had a meticulous presence in the classroom. I remember he had a man-made spreadsheet for keeping grades, and as defense coordinator for the football team, was considered to be again a meticulous coach,” Mr. Baker said. “In his theatrical life here, he played Scrooge and Ben Franklin in two Calvert Hall productions.”
F. Scott Black was a former managing director of Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre at Community College of Baltimore County Essexand the old Towsontowne Dinner Theatre.
“With Dave, sports and the arts complimented each other,” said Mr. Black, who directed Mr. Shannon in musical productions. “And musicals were his strength. He played Tevye in ‘Fiddler On the Roof,’ Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’, and Ben Franklin in ‘1776′ many times”
David Paul Shannon, son of John R. Shannon, a tour guide and bus driver, and Marguerite Cahill Shannon, a federal government secretary, was born and raised in Washington.
Mr. Shannon was a 1954 graduate of St. John’s College High School in Washington and earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1959 from La Salle University in Philadelphia.
While he was a student at La Salle, he met and fell in love with the former Judith Marie Van Fossen, who was also a student there.
“They both met when they were in a show at La Salle’s ‘Boy Meets Girl,’” said a daughter, Mary Beth Stapleton of Pylesville, who said her parents married in 1960.
Mr. Shannon began his teaching career in 1962 at Bishop Egan High School, which is now Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. Four years later, he joined the Calvert Hall College High School faculty as a social studies teacher.
“Dave had a dry sense of humor, but at times he came across as very stern, but was just an awesome teacher,” recalled Mr. Baker. “He’d render something very subtle when he used his theatrical background in a historical dramatic reading or he’d jump on a desk and do a little show.”
When Mr. Baker studied world history with Mr. Shannon, his teacher insisted they subscribe to Time magazine.
“Even though it was world history, he emphasized current events and he made us subscribe to Time because we had a weekly news quiz. I remained a Time subscriber until I was in my 50s because of Dave,” Mr. Baker said. “He may have taught history, but he could always show how it came to play in current times.”
In addition to his classroom duties, Mr. Shannon was defense coordinator for the school’s varsity football team from 1966 to 1983, working under two head coaches, Joseph R. Carlozo and Augie Miceli Sr.
Joseph V. Carlozo, a member of the Class of 1970, was coached by Mr. Shannon.
“He was a good, good man and my linebacker coach. My dad was head coach and the entire football program was run with three people, my dad, Mr. Shannon and Tom Bateman ” Mr. Carlozo said.
“Coach Shannon demanded a lot, and football coaches back at that time were tough on players but they in turn took boys and turned them into men. I felt blessed to have Coach Shannon and if you messed up, he’d put his arm around you and say, ‘Now, get back in there.’ I played at Penn State and he prepared me well, Mr. Carlozo said.
“As a coach, I’d hold up Coach Shannon against anybody. I’ll never forget him and what he did to make me an athlete. I have many fond memories because of him,” he said.
When Calvert Hall football practice started in mid-August, a young Augie Miceli Jr. would go work with his father and was the team’s water boy.
“In those years, we had three practices a day. We’d be in the office no later than 7:15 and practice would go until 8 in the evening, and I loved it. You see, at Calvert Hall, football was a religion, and Coach Shannon was a student of the game,” recalled Mr. Miceli, who played for Mr. Shannon his junior and senior year, and graduated in 1982.
“Dave was a wonderful teacher and was well-respected by the team. He was quiet, unassuming and looked like a professor cruising the stacks. He was disciplined and well-organized, in other words, he was a coach’s coach,” he said. “We had nicknames for Coach Shannon. When there was a typo in a Sun sports story and his name came out ‘Due Shannon,’ we called him that, or ‘Dave the Rave.’”
He added: “He could be intimidating to a freshman, but he was never demeaning. He was one of the best guys in my life as a teacher and coach.”
Because of his varied interests, Mr. Shannon was often called a Renaissance man.
Gifted with a baritone voice and a gracious stage presence, Mr. Shannon became well-known to Baltimore theatergoers. For years, he had performed at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre, Towsontowne Dinner Theatre, Vagabond Theatre and White Marsh Dinner Theatre, among other venues.
Winifred Walsh, Evening Sun theater critic, wrote of Mr. Shannon in a 1989 review of “1776,″ “Dave Shannon is excellent as the nimble-minded Franklin, the serious statesman who loves the good life, wine and women.”
“Dave really was the epitome of what we call a leading man ― not in the star sense ― but the way he led the company. He was always on time and knew his lines,” Mr. Black said. “He was not loud. He was a very cerebral actor, took notes, and asked the director lots of questions which I always respected. He always came through, was dependable, and truly a gentleman.”
At the end of the football season, Coach Miceli’s wife would host a dinner in their home for his assistant coaches and their wives.
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“After dinner, my mother would ask Dave to sing, and after a moment or two, he’d get into character, which took a minute, he’d explode into song,” Mr. Miceli said. “It was obvious his passion was football and the theater.”
For many years, Mr. Shannon served as the school’s graduation cantor at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
Mr. Shannon, who was a Civil War scholar and had amassed a large library devoted to the subject, liked visiting the historic battlefields where the conflict unfolded. He also enjoyed traveling with his wife and couldn’t resiststopping to read a a roadside historical marker.
The couple also operated an traveling antiques business, Shantiques, which took them to shows as far away as Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Other interests included classical music.
Plans for a private celebration-of-life gathering are incomplete.
In addition to his wife of 62 years, a retired Calvert Hall English teacher, and his daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Donna Shannon Kable of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Marguerite Willbanks of New York City; a brother, Jack Shannon of St. Charles, Missouri; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.