* He shed light on the lives of everyday people and brought a sense of humor
and balance to what he covered.
MICKEY DAVIS DIES AT 58
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 1997
By Ken Palen Dayton Daily News
Mickey Davis, whose passion for writing about everyday people and the
intrigue of day-to-day life made him a favorite of Miami Valley newspaper
readers, died Tuesday after a yearlong battle with cancer.
He was 58.
Mr. Davis' news stories, sports stories, features and columns appeared in
Dayton newspapers for more than 30 years, capturing numerous writing awards
along the way.
`Mickey was one of those too-rare journalists who instinctively understood
and empathized with the people he wrote about,' said Brad Tillson, president
and chief executive officer of Cox Ohio Publishing, which publishes the Dayton
Daily News . `He brought a sense of humor and balance to the subjects he
covered. He had a tremendous ability to connect with the reader.
`I attribute most of this to the fact that Mickey was a good person, and he
was not afraid to bring his optimistic and caring outlook to his writing. In
fact, he didn't know any other way to do it. Mickey was not the best reporter
I've ever known, but he may have been the best person who was a reporter I've
ever known. That's what matters.'
Mr. Davis began his career in June 1965 as a reporter with The Journal
Herald, later working as a sportswriter, features writer, `Morning Line'
columnist and Modern Living section editor before being appointed features
editor of the merged Dayton Daily News and The Journal Herald on Sept. 5,
The 1965 Ohio University graduate continued in the roles of features editor
and columnist with the Dayton Daily News. Mr. Davis launched the
lighthearted Al & Marge feature on June 5, 1994. He coordinated the column by
compiling the contributions of readers, newspaper staffers and himself.
`Where else can you have a nice conversation, turn it into a story and get
paid for it?' Mr. Davis once asked. `As long as there are interesting and
amusing people in the Miami Valley, I'll be finding them and sharing their
Moreover, Mr. Davis relished his role as an advocate for readers of the
`Mickey Davis was the best friend to the reader I ever saw in a newsroom.
He genuinely loved and respected his readers,' said Dayton Daily News Editor
Max Jennings. `Time and again in newsroom discussions, he would be the one who
focused us on how the reader might react to what we were going to print.'
The Vandalia resident was also a lifelong sports aficionado, playing
recreational softball and basketball up to the time of his illness. He
frequently attended area college and high school athletic events.
Mr. Davis served on scholarship committees at Vandalia Butler High School
and was a longtime member of Grace United Methodist Church.
`Mickey has been a friend of mine and a friend to all the kids in the
Vandalia-Butler district for many years,' said Vandalia Butler High School
Principal Sam Lickliter. `He was willing to do anything he could to help a
student or group of students. He always made himself available and never asked
for a thing in return.'
Through his stories, columns and non-newspaper activities, Mr. Davis became
a goodwill ambassador for the many communities that make up the Miami Valley.
`He taught us that there was nothing wrong about loving the community where
you live,' Jennings said. `He loved his, and he wrote lovingly about it,
Mr. Davis, a native of Scranton, Pa., who attended Keystone Junior College
(Pa.) before enrolling at Ohio University, was diagnosed with cancer in
November 1996. He underwent surgery the same month at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn. He retired in July.
`Mickey was like a brother to me. I guess we conversed an average of once a
week since I retired in 1991,' said Jim Zofkie, former Action Line editor for
The Journal Herald and Dayton Daily News .
`So you can imagine my shock when he called me last Nov. 14 (1996) from the
cancer ward at Miami Valley Hospital.
`But it was an inspiration to see how he handled the situation, how his
personal faith and love of his family kept him going. He taught us how to deal
with major adversity. He was a special human being.'
Other newsroom associates echoed those sentiments.
`Mickey had all the qualities you would want in a person,' said Dayton
Daily News sportswriter Bucky Albers, who worked with Mr. Davis in The
Journal Herald sports department. `He was kind, considerate, humble,
charitable, loyal and always sensitive to the feelings of others ....'
Newspaper colleagues considered Mr. Davis a mentor as well as a friend,
someone eager to build the confidence and enthusiasm of those around him.
`Reporters and editors especially like to point to the stories that righted
wrongs or put people in jail. Well, Mickey didn't write stories that put
people in jail. What he did was more important,' said Dayton Daily News
Managing Editor Steve Sidlo.
`Mickey wrote stories that helped people understand themselves, their
neighbors, their community. He wrote stories that gave you a warm feeling,
that made you nod your head in silent agreement or simply grin over your
coffee and toast.'
His colleagues admired Mr. Davis' approach to his profession.
`I have worked for Mickey and with Mickey for most of his years at The
Journal Herald and Dayton Daily News ,' said Ann Heller, food editor of the
Dayton Daily News . `In recent years, we sat in adjacent cubicles, and I could
hear him as he pursued stories.
`Always there was this undertone of laughter. His sense of humor was rich
and warm, never at the expense of another human being. In this business, that
is a rarity that could guide us all. When I think of Mickey, I hear a deep,
Dayton City Commissioner Abner Orick, who lost his bid for reelection last
week, described Mr. Davis as "a wonderful individual who lived life to the
"Whenever you saw Mickey, he always had that big ol' smile on his face and
something nice to say.
"The community is going to miss him."
Mr. Davis is survived by his wife Claudia, daughters Carrie, 25, and Megan,
22, and son Micah, 18.
Visitation is 4-8 p.m. on Friday at Baker-Hazel Funeral Home, 5555
Philadelphia Drive, Harrison Twp. A graveside service will be at noon on
Saturday at Dayton Memorial Park Cemetery, 8135 N. Dixie Drive, Butler Twp. A
memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on Saturday at Grace United Methodist
Church, Salem Avenue at Harvard Boulevard.
In lieu of flowers, the family says donations can be made to Hospice of
Dayton or to a scholarship fund for Micah Davis through KeyBank.