Services to be Thursday For William E. Davis, 89

Category: Obituaries
Created on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 13:48
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William Evans Davis climbed his final worldly summit on Tuesday, August 28, in the Sitka Pioneers Home at the age of 89.
A memorial service will be held at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 13, followed by a festive celebration of his life at 7 p.m. in Harrigan Centennial Hall Raven Room.

William Evans Davis

Bill, as he was known to family and friends, was born in Denver, Colorado, on April 16, 1929, to Margaret Evans, the granddaughter of Colorado’s second territorial governor; and Roblin Henry Davis, a successful businessman and banker.
He attended elementary and middle school in Denver and high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, class of 1947.  He graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in sociology from Princeton University in 1951, and went on to earn his Ph.D. in counseling psychology in 1959 from the University of Denver.
Throughout his youth, he enjoyed summers at his family’s ranch near Evergreen, and became an avid mountain climber. He joined the Colorado Mountain Club and made many friends, among them mountaineers who would later accompany Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Everest in 1951. In the 1950s he made six first ascents in the northern St. Elias Range including the highest unclimbed mountain in North America at the time. He was a member of the American Alpine Club and the Alpine Club of Canada. He was known fondly in his mountaineering circles as “Mother Davis” because of his caring nature.
Bill moved to Anchorage in 1961 to teach at Alaska Methodist University, where he was a beloved professor of psychology to students from a variety of backgrounds. He also served as director of admissions, executive vice president, and acting president, and administered the Upward Bound program, among many other responsibilities.
In the lobby of Grant Hall at Alaska Methodist University, Bill met maverick Alaskan anthropologist Nancy Caroline Yaw of Sitka.  She was the instructor of anthropology on the university’s first faculty. They were married in Sitka’s First Presbyterian Church on August 8, 1962. Their three children, Caroline, Scott, and Roblin, were born in Anchorage. 
As a deeply engaged member of the congregation at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage, Bill was a licensed lay reader, lay reader trainer, Vestry member, and in-house lay Eucharistic minister. He served on the Bishop’s Committee, the Worship and Ministry Committees, Parish Commission on Ministry, and was a Men’s Group founder.  For several years he was the Alaska Regional Chair for the National Cathedral Association. 
When Alaska Methodist University closed in 1976, Bill was appointed to the Office of Technology Assessment by Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, and the family moved to Fort Washington, Maryland. As a Senior Professional Staff, a Senior Analyst, and a Senior Policy Analyst, he researched and edited reports on topics ranging from oil shale technologies and wetlands management to laws governing access across federal lands and demographic trends influencing school systems. In 1982 the family returned to Anchorage.
In Anchorage, Bill continued to pursue his keen interest in history and writing as an active member of the Cook Inlet Historical Society. He received the Evangeline Atwood Historian of the Year Award in recognition of his long-term dedication to the preservation of Alaskan history.
During these years he worked closely with Nancy as a skillful editor for her consulting and research business, Cultural Dynamics. The two of them held a session on Cook Inlet anthropology in 1993 then edited and published the volume of papers in 1996, “Adventures in Time: The Anthropology of Cook Inlet.”
In 2009 he and Nancy moved to Sitka, where he spent his last years as an active member of the community and made numerous friends. Bill loved Sitka. He was an organizer and supporter of Paths Across the Pacific conferences, sang with the Sacred Harp Singers and was an ardent thespian. He was instrumental in the revitalization of community theater in Sitka, and took on a number of roles in plays, including as a narrator, a cardinal and a dog in Live Radio Theater.
He joined St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, where he was a distinguished reader and served faithfully as a worship leader, lector, and Eucharistic minister, often leading the prayers of the people. He served on the Search and Endowment Committees, was a respected Elder, and a member of The Society of St. Simeon and St. Anna.
Throughout his life, Bill was a generous supporter of arts organizations including the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Island Institute, Raven Radio and the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and was a board member of the Greater Sitka Legacy Fund.
All three children warmly credit their Dad for his profound influence on their lives, notably their involvement in the outdoors and arts. Caroline credits him for her love of language, especially puns; Scott for his love of dance and choreography; and Roblin for his love of theater and performing. They share fond memories of time spent together at the family cabin in Chickaloon, Alaska.
Bill is survived by his wife Nancy Yaw Davis, children Caroline Davis Goodwin of Montara, California, William Scott Davis of Seattle, Washington, Roblin Gray Davis and daughter-in-law Dawn Elizabeth Pisel-Davis of Juneau; grandchildren Maya Pisel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Naomi Louise Goodwin of San Francisco, Forrest Scott Pisel Davis of Juneau, Isabel Neva Goodwin of Montara, and Arlo William Pisel Davis of Juneau; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his brothers Roblin and David Davis, sister Margaret “Peg” Hayden, nephew Tom Hayden, son-in-law Nick Goodwin and granddaughter Josephine Goodwin.
Bill will long be remembered for his grace, patience, quirky humor, and generosity.