January 5, 2011
Remembering the late David Peyton, a wonderful teacher
By Tim Lavey '63
“I was saddened on multiple levels to hear from Jeff Peyton '61 that his father, David Peyton, had passed away on January 2. He was a wonderful role model and teacher at Division Avenue High School and he was a close family friend.
My mom and dad had met and become friends with a number of families who were fighting against the intolerance of the Levittown School Board around 1956 or so. This group included the Peytons, the Fitzsimmonses, the Thibadeaus, the Kebabians and others. For decades thereafter, they remained fast friends. We were continually going to the beach with the Peytons in the warm weather months.
When I went to DAHS starting in 7th grade, it was a bit awkward for me to be around Dave Peyton. For one thing, I had to get used to calling him Mr. Peyton. He was otherwise “Uncle Dave” to me. The awkwardness was compounded when I had him for Industrial Arts in 1958 (and later Driver Ed). I had no discernable skills in Dave’s Industrial Arts class, but he helped me make a carving of a Roman soldier.
In many ways, the DAHS years are a blur. In my hazy recollection, it seems that there was one big, endless party at the Peyton house on Snowbird Lane. I can’t remember ever being there when there weren’t dozens of people in the house. While Dave was an integral part of this scene, most of it was surely due to Dave’s wife Sybil, my “Aunt Sybil”, a big-time extrovert if there ever was one.
It was a pleasure to reconnect with both Dave and Jeff back in 2009. Jeff stayed a night at my house in NJ, and I visited with him and Dave at Dave’s apartment in Gramercy Park (see photo above). I’m so glad I got to see Dave one last time.
I’m sure everyone would agree that Dave had a gruff exterior, but he was a warm, loving person to those of us who really got to know him. I’m happy that I was one of them.”
Comments from Mr. Peyton's students
Jim Anton '61: I was lucky enough to have Mr. Peyton for shop. He was a dedicated teacher. May he rest in peace.
Marilyn Monsrud Frese '63: I'm so sorry to hear about Mr. Peyton. He will be remembered fondly by so many people whose life he touched. I had the privilege of getting to know him better when I worked at Division Avenue.
Mark Rotker '68: He was a good guy. Had him for print shop in jr. high and then in driver ed. Played sports all year so I had to take it in the summer. Mr. Peyton asks who wants to drive first, so of course I volunteer. Pull out of the parking lot behind the school onto Division Avenue. There are just three of us guys plus him. Figure he's gonna take us behind Mays on the first day. Nope. Left on Division, right onto Hempstead Turnpike, right onto Merrick Avenue (past Salisbury Park) and right onto Old Country Road. Pretty gutsy on his part, but lotsa fun. Amazing he lasted so long after all those years teaching kids to drive in those situations.
Alan Lerner '60: Our condolences to the Peyton family for the loss of a wonderful human being. We lost a real hero.
Daria Marusevich '61: I've known Mr. Peyton a very long time. I am very sorry to hear of his passing. Rest in peace Dave, we'll miss your wonderful smile.
Brian Fisher '61: I had Mr. Peyton as my metal shop teacher, and I enjoyed his class very much even though I wasn't that good in metal shop. I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.
Arnie Galeota '61: Mr. Peyton was great man who leaves a tremendous legacy. I'm truly sorry.