OBITUARY
MICKEY DAVIS DIES AT 58

* He shed light on the lives of everyday people and brought a sense of humor and balance to what he covered.


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, 1982.
   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 thoughts.'
   Moreover, Mr. Davis relished his role as an advocate for readers of the newspaper.
   `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, without apology.'
   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, resounding chuckle.'
   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 fullest."
   "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.