September 21, 2001
Bill Davis usually made me laugh whenever we played golf.
I’ll keep that memory with me, now that he’s gone.
Davis, who lived in Milton, died September 4 at age 72 from a nasty combination of cancers. When first diagnosed, he was optimistic about his chances of successfully fighting the disease. Unfortunately, the cancer spread too far and too fast.
At the viewing, his brother Dick said, “It was time for him to go. They increased his morphine dosage each day for the pain as it got worse and worse. Finally the cancer reached his brain, and there was nothing more anyone could do. I’m really going to miss him.”
Davis was a long-time member of Shawnee Country Club, where I first became acquainted with him. At first, I just knew him as one of the old guys, who I would see just as often at the card table as I did out on the golf course.
It wasn’t hard to notice Davis as he and his buddies played gin. For Davis, teasing and laughing were as important a part of his card games as winning. The “men’s card room,” which at Shawnee is simply part of the locker room, was not a quiet place when he was at the table.
It was hard to stay quiet whenever I played golf with him. At some point in the round he would make some snide remark that would set me off giggling. Often, he would time it to happen just as I was trying to make a putt.
Davis was sometimes pretty intense about golf. In his prime he was a very good player. Bill would get mad on occasion when his game would fail him, but it would blow over quickly.
Don Jefferson of Lewes, a Shawnee member, remembers fondly the time Davis became enraged after screwing up a tee shot with a pitching wedge on a short par 3. “He reared back with that wedge and just whaled it into the ground,” Jefferson said. The club stuck well over a foot into the wet earth. Davis then had to struggle to pull the wedge out of the ground. The memory of that sight brought a smile to Jefferson’s face as he re-told the story.
Steve VanSant, a fellow Shawnee member and the coach of the Lake Forest High School golf team, told another story about Davis’ quick temper. “Bill and I were on the eleventh green at Shawnee, and he missed his putt. As soon as the ball slid by the hole, his putter went straight up into the air. Bill suddenly realized that it was about to come down on top of his head. He leaped out of the way just in time,” VanSant grinned.
Davis frequently helped fellow golfers with their games, by giving little tips during the round when he thought it would help. Eddie Jackson of Milford hadn’t been playing for very long when he started playing a few rounds with Davis. “He really helped my chipping,” Jackson said recently. “He would always say, ‘Take it back low and slow, and then come through,’ and if I did what he said it would always work out well.”
Davis actively participated in Shawnee affairs. He was on the Board of Directors for more than one term, and played a vital role on the club’s golf committee. He was keenly interested in supporting junior golf, and also helped his fellow senior golfers with his work with the Maryland Intercoastal Senior Golf Association (MISGA).
Davis deeply loved his wife Eileen. There was always an easy air of deep companionship and tenderness between them whenever I would see the two of them walking together.
His family made a nice final gesture in memory of his love for golf. As he lay in the casket during the viewing, he wore a Shawnee CC golf cap.
Seeing him with that hat on made me smile once again.