NEW YORK CITY - On Monday, February 28, David Michael Chontos died in a New York City hospital after a series of strokes. He was only 56.
Born November 27, 1965, Dave was the eldest of three adopted children of longtime West Dover residents and owners of the Sno Shoppe, Joan and Steve Chontos. He was a tow-headed, loving little boy, always holding the hand of his little sister Debbie. He grew up to be a brash blond, still loving, giving, caring, incredibly creative, and talented but also disciplined and demanding.
Dave’s ultimate ambition was to become a Broadway actor. He began his career at Dover Elementary in 1978, lip-syncing a Crosby/Lamour duet with his best friend, Katie Bunnell, swapping gender roles of course. He went on to perform in Wilmington Junior-Senior High School performances at Memorial Hall of “Grease” in 1981 and “L’il Abner” in 1983.
Dave graduated in 1984 and went on to Bard College, where he got his BA in drama and dance. Dave then went on to get his MA in perseverance. The truth is that Dave was always a scholar of that art. If he had his mind set on something, he would do it, learn it or achieve it and generally with great humor and certainly all good intentions. Dave did not have a mean bone in his body - though it was always suspected it was the third proximal phalanx.
In his early years, he shoaled up in Prescott, AZ, on his way to California. His ancient VW Bug decided to die just where his parents had recently retired. Not a dream come true but Dave made the best of it, worked hard, had an awesome cat named Sebastian, and, when the time was right, he headed to the New York City area. At first he landed in Yonkers, doing youth art programs. Still intent on the stage, he went to Manhattan to pursue that dream. He worked at what came up, went to auditions, and even spent a length of time homeless. But he never gave up. In the end, he was making a living in theater, not on the stage, but making the stage happen. He did what was needed as a stage manager, technical expertise, house manager, dresser, stylist, wardrobe supervisor, and costume designer. Dave excelled at costume design and did many productions for the Brooklyn Youth Theater and Rising Stars, passing on the love of theater and art to the next generation.
David’s MA in perseverance did not land him on the stage but it made his dreams come true. He was living in the heart of it all, working like mad and loving it. Doing everything with his normal panache, his generous spirit, his skill and discipline, and his kindness.
In December 2019, Dave’s father fell seriously ill. With his normal efficiency, Dave quickly arranged coverage for his current job and flew out to Arizona just before his father died. Dave’s mother Joan had advanced Parkinson’s. Naturally he stayed with her. With his sister Debbie, he took care of their mother through all the worst of COVID times. Joan died May 28, 2021, with her children at her side. Dave made his way back to New York, where his plan to run a theater in London was to begin early summer.
David is survived by sister Deborah (Deek) Simcox, of Montana; brother Christopher Chontos, of Vermont; nephews and nieces; and his beloved godchild Olive, of Arizona.
A celebration of life is planned for David and Joan on Thursday, May 12, at 6 pm at Memorial Hall in Wilmington.