Print This Article The Wichita Eagle Back to web version
Thursday, April 17, 2014

DOLORES DAVIS


Amy Davis remembers the nutty things Grandma did.

The way she carried wet wipes everywhere to scrub any surface -- faces included -- that might possibly be germy.

The way she "hid" matches on top of the fridge, even after her children were grown.

The way she rolled the car windows down just an inch or two, no more, for fear her grandkids might get sucked out by the vacuum.

"Roll it down, Grandma!" the kids would yell from the back seat. "Can you roll it down some more?"

"No, that's enough," she'd say. Then she'd hum a tune and keep driving.

Dolores "Dee" Davis was funny that way, Amy said.

"I think about her, and I just laugh," said Amy, 28. "She was the best."

Davis was born June 6, 1928, in Stella, Neb. She grew up on a farm, learning the things farm girls learn -- like how to fix comfort food.

"Casseroles, ham loaf -- oh, and that red velvet cake," said her son, Jeff Davis, a management consultant in Orlando, Fla. "She knew what we liked, and she was such a great cook. Made everything from scratch."

The family got together for Christmas in 1990 -- the month before Davis was killed. Dee Davis hosted and, as always, insisted everything be perfect.

The day everyone arrived -- Jeff and his family from Florida, daughter Laurel and her family from Colorado -- Dee made four trips to Leeker's to make sure she had everything for dinner. "We didn't eat until 9 o'clock," Jeff said. "But it was worth the wait."

Jeff said he and his mother had a tenuous relationship early on. His parents divorced in 1961 after 12 years of marriage. Jeff lived with his father, Harold, and Laurel lived with her mother.

He spent most weekends with his mom, he said, but things were strained.

"It was tough on everybody," Jeff said. "Divorce wasn't very common back then, and we were just trying to figure it all out."

In later years, Jeff and his mom grew "very close," he said. They talked on the phone every weekend, sometimes for hours.

Dee worked more than 25 years as a secretary for Lario Oil & Gas Co. She retired in 1990, just months before she died.

She also sold Mary Kay cosmetics. She liked that the company didn't test its products on animals, Amy said.

When family members sorted through Dee's belongings after her death, they found dozens of magazines and newsletters from animal rights groups such as the Doris Day Animal League and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Amy, 14 at the time, asked to keep the magazines. She read them, and soon after became a vegetarian. Today she handles animals at a children's zoo in New Orleans.

Amy remembers that last Christmas with Grandma. The family rented "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and watched it together.

"We cried," Amy said. "I still love that movie, and it always makes me think of her."

-- Suzanne Perez Tobias

© 2005 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com