David Anthony Showell
October 14, 1921-December 23, 1955
Unit: 617th Bombardment Squadron of the 477th Bombardment Group

David Showell, one of seven children, was born on October 14, 1924. He spent his childhood at 816 Madison Ave. in Prospect Park, where he attended Lincoln Elementary School, Washington Junior High and Prospect Park High.

His father, Elwood Showell, the grandson of a slave, worked at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Essington for 52 years. Starting out as a waiter, he later became the esteemed club steward.

At Prospect Park, Showell was an outstanding all-around athlete. As a senior, he was the top scorer in Delaware County with 135 points during the 1942 football season. He was selected to the All-Delco, All-Scholastic and All-Suburban teams. He was also honored at Ridley Township’s annual football banquet when they presented him with a cup for being their most outstanding opponent that season.

Showell led Prospect Park, coached by the legendary Millard Robinson, to one of their most successful football seasons in the history of the school. In 1942, they captured three championships, the suburban Class A and B and the Chester Pike Conference. It was the first time that any school had been awarded both Suburban titles simultaneously and the first time Prospect Park had won the Chester Pike Conference Trophy. As of 1941, he was the only Black player on his team.

He served as a Flight Officer in the 617th Bombardment Squadron, activated in 1943 as one of the four squadrons of the 477th Bombardment Group, the first and only bombardment group in the United States Army Air Forces to include black pilots. Showell was discharged from the U.S. Army in October 1945.

After his service, he returned to Lafayette College and was a key player in the 1949 Sun Bowl controversy. He had begun a year and a half of law school in the Midwest.

The 1949 Sun Bowl controversy refers to the student protests at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, after a Sun Bowl invitation was extended to the Lafayette Leopards football team under the condition that the African American player, David Showell, would not play.

In 1947, Showell began his freshman year at Lafayette College, a small liberal arts college in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he played on the Lafayette Leopards football team for four years, starring at halfback. At the end of the 1948 season, Showell was excluded from an invitation the team received to play in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on January 1, 1949.This discriminatory event sparked much controversy, not only within Lafayette College, but across the country. Lafayette decided not to send its team to the Sun Bowl in response to the Sun Bowl Committee’s decision to exclude Showell from the game due to the segregation laws in Texas, which led to large student protests at the college against racial discrimination.

In 1951, Showell graduated from Lafayette College and earned his bachelor’s degree in business. After his undergraduate years, Showell attended the University of Wisconsin Law School.

After Showell graduated in 1951, he went on to the University of Wisconsin Law School. While he was home during the Christmas holidays, tragedy struck on December 25, 1955. He was driving a truck for Story & Compton Fuel Oil Company, and attempted to avoid hitting a car and overturned. He ended up under the truck and was crushed to death.

At the young age 31, Dave Showell was gone but should never be forgotten. He was an outstanding athlete and human being from our county who not only served his country well in World War II but was also an integral part of integrating a college bowl game in the American south.

Daily Times


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