Beverly R. 'Penny' David obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Penny David.


Beverly R. "Penny" David, professor emerita of theatre at Western Michigan University, died Nov. 19. She was 85.

The longtime Allegan, Mich., resident began teaching at WMU in 1964 as a part-time instructor. David joined the humanities section of the General Studies faculty in 1967 and retired in 1994 after more than 26 years of continuous full-time service to the University.

An internationally recognized expert on Mark Twain and the illustration and design of his books, she lectured and taught on four continents as well as established the Mark Twain Forum at Yonsei University in South Korea

Beverly R. 'Penny' David

David wrote more than two dozen essays for "The Oxford Mark Twain," a 29-volume set of Twain's works published by Oxford University Press in 1997. She also wrote two volumes of "Mark Twain and His Illustrations" and penned articles for the Mark Twain Encyclopedia.

Known as a dedicated and energetic teacher, David built WMU's noted Direct Encounter With the Arts Program and served as its administrator for 25 years. The program introduced as many as 10,000 undergraduate students to the arts during her tenure.

She also was instrumental in developing similar programs at institutions such as the University of Colorado at Boulder and South Florida State University, but WMU's direct-encounter offering was the only one in the nation to cover all five fine arts disciplines.

David went on to create the Community Ambassador Corps in the mid-1980s to heighten WMU's regional visibility as well as awareness about the University's value as a regional resource for business, government, nonprofits and the public.

In addition, she established WMU's first women's studies classes and was among the first five people selected in 1985-86 for the University's Administrative Associates Program, an intensive career development opportunity.

David remained active in retirement, writing and teaching a seminar on Twain at the University of Arizona at Tucson, where she and her late husband lived six months out of the year. In addition, she taught art history and performed Mark Twain programs as well as served in leadership positions with organizations associated with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

David earned bachelor's and master's degrees from WMU and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University.


A private family celebration was held.

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Memorial gifts may be made to the ALS Society and sent in care of Denise Hoag, 1301 Torreys Peak Drive, Longmont, Colo. 80504.