July 5, 1939 - April 9, 2018
David T. Deyell, an Army veteran who worked almost half his life for Niagara Mohawk and was a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in the City of Tonawanda for more than 40 years, died Monday in his Town of Tonawanda home after a brief illness. He was 78.
Born in Cheektowaga, Mr. Deyell was a 1957 graduate of Cleveland Hill High School. He went to work at Niagara Mohawk after high school and, except for two years he spent in the military, remained with the utility until his retirement in 1994.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964, overseas and stateside. In 1962, while serving as a military policeman in the United States, he became a witness to history: One of his duties was to guard a dormitory at the University of Mississippi where civil rights activist James Meredith lived when he became the first African-American admitted to the segregated school.
Following his honorable discharge from the service, Mr. Deyell returned to his job at Niagara Mohawk, where he met his future wife, the former Michele Boutet. The two were married in 1968 and settled in the Town of Tonawanda, where they raised their five children.
Mr. Deyell was an active parishioner at St. Francis Church. He was a Eucharistic minister for 40 years. He also volunteered for the parish food pantry; was a caretaker of the parish cemetery; served as a Pre-Cana marriage coach; and was the swim team coach. He was a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for St. Francis Home School Association and a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Mr. Deyell's dry sense of humor was well-known to friends and family. In social gatherings, it was common to see people dissolve in laughter as he told stories about people he had met. Equally well-known, his wife said, was his devotion to his family.
"It was all about family. His family was so important to him," she said.
In addition to his wife of nearly 50 years, he is survived by three daughters, Rachel, Joanna Eberl and Margaret Mary Palumbo; two sons, Daniel and Andrew; two sisters, Judith Eckle and Kathleen LeFauve; a brother, James; and 11 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 144 Broad St., City of Tonawanda.