TOMS RIVER – A legend has left us.
P. David Correll Sr., died Saturday, Dec. 2, at the age of 83 after more than half a century of involvement in the Toms River Township Regional School District, primarily at Toms River High School South.
Correll, a retired teacher, was a familiar voice to South students during morning announcements and at the Indians’ home football games where he was known as the Voice of the Indians.
“Everybody up on the kickoff and let’s go River,” he bellowed from the press box, perhaps his favorite place on Earth next to his family’s home, the South hallways and his South classroom.
“First down Indians,” was another phrase.
“Ttttouchdown,” the 1957 graduate of then-Toms River High School cheered after the Indians put six points on the scoreboard. He often led fans in Old Indian Tom, South’s school song. Seeking shelter from inclement weather, media members who prowled the sidelines in favorable conditions were offered a glad hand and a smile from Correll in the press box.
“His classes and lessons on ‘Indian Spirit’ often drowned out teachers in neighboring classrooms,” the district said on its website Monday, Dec. 4, in announcing his passing. “After retirement, Correll remained a visible figure in the community and was inducted into the Toms River Hall of Fame in 2009.
“Everyone here at Toms River Regional Schools extends their heartfelt condolences to his family and close friends and remains forever grateful for his dedication to his students, his colleagues and the entire Toms River community,” district officials continued on the district’s website.
On Monday afternoon, Dec. 4, South’s students led a procession through the halls in his honor. South’s band and spirit leaders led the procession.
“The heartache of the weekend’s news regarding the passing of High School South icon P. David Correll morphed into the school spirit he embodied throughout his long, remarkable and incredibly impactful career,” said a Facebook post from the district.
Debby Pol, who works at South, said on Facebook, “P. David Correll was one of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. His love and passion for God, his family and friends and High School South were unmatched by anyone. The hours that I got to sit and enjoy him as a student, colleague and friend were memories that I will cherish forever. It was hard to hear about how he was deteriorating during the past year or so, but I know that the love he had for Jesus Christ has him and his family at peace. Thank you P. David for so many wonderful memories
“May you rest in peace with our maker. Sending so much love to Mrs. Correll, Dave Correll, Kelly Correll, Carolyn Correll Ferguson and Debbie Siragusa and all of your families. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
The Toms River South Football Alumni said on Facebook, “The spirit of Mr. Correll shall live on forever in the halls and on the fields of Toms River South.”
A Pep Rally at South in Correll’s honor took place when he was 79. His family marched onto the football field between two rows of band members playing and doing the Indian Chop. He rang the ceremonial Detwiler Bell. The cheerleaders and the current Indian and Spirit mascot led the crowd in some call and response.
“Give me an I …” which would eventually spell INDIANS.
“We are TR,” which ends with “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” because they are polite.
“We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?!”
His family, including his wife, Donna, was introduced. He was shown a plaque in recognition that was to be hung in the halls. Correll spoke about how pep rallies came to be. His voice was quieter, but he still called out, “First dowwwn Indians!”
His biggest cheerleader was his son, physical education teacher David Correll.
“He poured his heart and soul into this school,” his son said. “He loved the school and the people.”
At least a hundred people were out on the field that day. After the ceremony, P. David Correll and his wife sat on chairs in the middle of the field where folks lined up 50 yards deep to greet them and tell them what he means to them. They took pictures with him and shared stories.
NOTE: Patch.com contributed to this report.