David Payne Conley, 64, of Pawhuska, died peacefully in his sleep at 4:20 p.m. on Friday, April 29. He was in the comfort of at his home, surrounded by his loving family.
David was born to John Merle Conley Sr. and Ann Kathleen Payne in the Pawhuska City Hospital on Friday, Sept. 28, 1951.
Mr. Conley leaves behind the following survivors: two daughters, Crystal and Eden Lavender of Australia; one sister, Carrie Ann (Conley) Watters and her husband, Jim (Bo) Watters, of Pawhuska; an older brother, John Conley of Bartlesville; close cousins Becki Surber Ivanovic, Heidi Surber Teichgraeber and Erica Surber Bechtel, as well as his life-long friend, Mike Bilyeu, of Bozeman, Mont., and other relatives and friends — too many to list.
David received his elementary education in Pawhuska before moving with his family to Stillwater, where he graduated high school as a Stillwater Pioneer. After graduation, he enrolled at Oklahoma State University where he as a proud Sigma Chi fraternity member. David also pursued and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, graduating in 1974. During the summer months of his college years, David received valuable journalistic experience from Frank Spencer while interning at the Pawhuska Journal Capital. David made a splash, in fact, with his hilarious coverage of a Watermelon Seed-Spitting Contest held in Pawhuska.
After graduation, David worked and saved to purchase a one-way ticket to London to pursue a highly-anticipated backpacking adventure. It was during this period of time, while traveling on a train, that David met and became engaged in a conversation with a gentleman who owned a copper mine in Papua New Guinea. By the end of the train ride, David had accepted a job offer from the man to write press releases and newsletters for his company, thus beginning a long and varied writing career that continued successfully for decades. That job also offered David an opportunity for numerous backpacking mountain hikes and, within a short period of time, David found himself on the Gold Coast of Australia, a country that was to become his second home. During his time in Queensland, Australia, David received a Masters degree and his PhD. He was a professor of journalism at Brisbane University until his retirement. He loved being referred to as "Dr. Conley."
Over the years, David wrote for numerous publications, even returning to the United States to write feature stories for the Tulsa Tribune and newspapers in Oklahoma City. His journalism awards are too numerous to mention. David’s talent is memorialized with his twice re-printed textbook on journalism: The Daily Miracle, as well as his novel, "The Gibbles," a book that is bound, no doubt, for culthood.
He had lived most recently among the redwoods in North Bend, Ore., before settling close to his sister and buying a home Pawhuska, where he finally retired to write his books. David was a selfless brother, father, grandfather, writer, and friend. He loved as he was loved.
A memorial service will be held at a later date, with McCartney’s Johnson Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Rivercross Hospice, 9820 E. 41st Street, Suite 400 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74146.