WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
WILLIAM LEE “Bill” DAVIDSON, first child, son of William Edmund Davidson and Mary Pauline (Roller) Davidson, was born 3 March 1926 at 1905 NW 28th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.1
William married Mary Elizabeth Grisham 20 June 1944 in her parent’s home at 3608 NW 14th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. She was born 18 December 1929 at 602 West Oklahoma Street, Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma. Her parents were Homer Elvin Grisham and Villa Virginia (Wofford) Grisham.
Mary died Saturday, September 23, 2006, at the hospital in Liberal, Seward County, Kansas. She is buried at Restlawn Cemetery in Seward County next to their son, Joseph Allen.
William and Mary have four children. They are:
(1) Johnny Lee Davidson born 19 May 1947 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, m. Margaret Rosemary Brewer, 29 June 1985 in Swaffhan, Norfork, England. She was born in Southport, Lancshire, England. They have one daughter, Isabella Elizabeth Faye, b. 8 September 1985 in Bury, St. Edwards, Suffolk, England.
1 (William Lee went by “William” until he entered the military service during WW II. He went by “Bill” after he came home from the navy.)
(2) Jimmy Lynn Davidson born 31 July 1950 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, m. Ruth Elaine Fredrick, 20 December 1969. She was born 8 October 1952 in Liberal, Kansas. They have two children: Brandie Dawn born 26 April 1973 in Liberal, Kansas; and Joshua Dean born 3 June 1975 in Liberal, Kansas. Jimmy married Pat Crittenden. No issue.
(3) Joseph Allen Davidson born 11 June 1953 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, died 2 August 1996 in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas, buried at Restlawn Cemetery, Liberal, Seward County, Kansas. No issue.
(4) Deborah Jean Davidson born 4 October 1954 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. m. Don Horton. They have one child, Angela Marie, born 19 February 1974. Deborah m. Kevin Holt. They have one child, Julian Carl, born 14 June 1977. Deborah m. Randy Schmitzer. No issue.
According to Williams’s father the house where he was born was not much of a house. It was more like a chicken hut converted to living quarters without running water. William’s mother and father were a young couple with very little resource.
William’s father soon got a job with the Oklahoma Railway Company. He with his wife and new son moved to 3204 NW 13th street where two younger brothers were born. This house was actually a garage converted to living quarters, but an improvement over the “chicken hut” house.
William’s father’s job situation improved and the family moved to 2709 NW 40th Street. William said:
The place on 40th street was about two acres. We raised chickens, kept a cow and had a large garden. We also raised grapes.
I remember one year Mom made grape juice and sealed it in canning jars. She buried the jars in saw dust and wood shavings so the juice would not freeze in the winter. When she opened the first jar several months later the juice had turned to wine. She was really surprised. We children did not get any of the grapejuice.
One summer my brother, Bob, and I decided to pick some grapes and eat them. Our Uncle Loyce was visiting. We put the grape seeds in the fuel tank of his car so mother would not know we were eating the grapes. His fuel line later became clogged. When he unclogged it he found grape seeds. He was not happy with his nephews.
When William was about seven years old his father brought home a pair of kid boxing gloves. William and his brother, Bobby Joe, put them on, but did they box each other? No, they pummeled little brother, Gene.
When William was about eight years old the family went to a big Easter egg hunt near Edmond. He found the golden Easter egg and won a five- dollar bill for the prize.
The Great Depression years were 1930 to 1940. In 1936 William’s father lost his job at the Oklahoma Railway Company. Jobs were scarce. Money was tight. The mortgage on the house at 40th Street came due. There was not enough money to make the payment. The mortgage company foreclosed.
William’s mother was in an automobile accident hit by an employee of Baash-Ross Tool Company who ran into the back of the car. William’s father used the settlement money to buy a house at 3608 NW 13th Street.
The family did not live there very long. It was soon obvious that making the payments and keeping food on the table over extended the income. The decision was made to rent the house and move to an acreage in the country where they could raise a garden, keep a cow, and have chickens.
(218) William E. “Bill” Davidson Family (219) WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
In November 1937 when William was eleven years old the family moved to the Johnson Place near Moore, Oklahoma. The children rode the school bus to Moore to attend classes. William’s father worked for Meadow Gold Dairy as a retail milk deliveryman in Oklahoma City.
We rode an old school bus to school. It was actually a farm truck. When school started Tiny Spencer, a local farmer, took the truck body off and bolted the bus body to the truck. It had bench seats along each side-wall. Down the middle was a bench the boys had to straddle. There was no heater.
My brother, Bobby Joe, and I pulled a small garden plow while Mom guided it so we could till the soil to plant a garden. We also pulled the plow to cultivate around the plants. The garden provided food for the table and Mom canned the rest for the winter.
When William was about twelve years old he wanted to make some money. He saved what he could and when he had enough money he responded to an ad from the back of a farm magazine.
They sent him a small hand operated potato slicer and some cellophane bags. Bill was to provide the potatoes, peel them, cut thin slices with the slicer, deep fry them, package them in the cellophane bags, and sell “Potato Chips” to stores and others. The slicer never worked as advertised. Bill didn’t make any money.
The family moved from the Johnson Place to the Turk Place two miles south. They lived there about two years and then moved to the Sullivan Place a mile east and a quarter mile south.
It was here that William began to work part time for a neighbor farmer who also did custom farming. William broke his wrist while cranking a tractor. It kicked back causing the crank handle to strike his left wrist.
When I was thirteen years old I hired out to work for Henry Janko. He hired me to shock bundles of grain. He had a daughter about three years younger than me. She brought a jug of water to the field so I had water to drink. I didn’t know how to shock the bundles. She showed me. She also showed me how to hide the water jug under a shock to keep it cool, and to lay a bundle on the ground next to it to know where the water was kept.
I made enough money working for Henry to buy a young Southdown ewe as my FFA project. I groomed and worked with her to perfection. I showed her at the Cleveland County fair and won a blue ribbon for first place. Later at the state fair I came home with a red ribbon for second place in the FFA Division. In the adult division the competition was too keen. I competed against adults and got second place in the Open Division.
Dad bought a team of mules, Pete and Jack. We used them on the farm. I did most of the plowing with a walking turning plow. It took me three full twelve-hour days to plow forty acres.
We planted cotton and corn, raised chickens, and milked three cows. My Southdown ewe had two lambs and I got a goat to protect the sheep.
We went to school at Moore. I was enrolled in the FFA program which had a boxing team. I was on the team. I was knocked out one time.
After working for Henry a couple of years he put me in charge of the tractor and thrashing machine. We went to work at five o’clock in the morning. My job was to set the tractor, and belt it to the thrasher. It was my duty to see that the tractor and thrasher was properly lubricated at all times. I had to add fuel to the tractor while it was running. I had to be very careful. I took care of all the equipment while Henry went looking for more jobs.220 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 221 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
At home I chopped cotton, cultivated corn, took care of my sheep, milked the cows, and helped with the livestock when I was not working for Henry.
In November 1943 the family moved to Evening Shade, Arkansas. William and Junior Janko (Henry’s son) went with William’s father to haul the mules and cows to Grandpa Davidson’s place near Hardy. William stayed with them while his dad and Junior came back to Moore to get the rest of the family and household goods.
William and his brothers and sister went to school in Evening Shade. It was much smaller than the school at Moore, and somewhat backward comparatively speaking.
We arrived in time to take the end of semester tests. We had already taken the tests at Moore. We took the tests and the three students with the highest test scores were from Moore, Oklahoma.
The principal called an assembly of the entire school from the seventh through twelfth grades. He told the Evening Shade students about our high grades and how dumb they were. This made some of the students mad at us. It was fight from there on. I was called into the principal’s office and given a good talking to about fighting and that it would not be tolerated. I was called a “hoodlum” right there in the office.
To make things worse I wrote an essay that graded tops in the class. The teacher worked with me to perfect it to enter in the county contest. I won first in the county and it was entered in the state contest where I won second. It was written up in the local newspaper which did not help my popularity.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers hired William to take a twice daily reading of the Strawberry River flow gauge on the side of the bridge north of the house. He recorded it on a form and mailed to the office in Little Rock. He was paid twenty dollars a month.
One day I was gauging the river when the circuit preacher came along. He stopped and asked if I would preach at the little church over the mountain at Qualls. I told him to talk to Dad. I started preaching. It was mostly me reading the Bible and one of the Qualls girls leading the singing. I still have the old songbook put away as a keepsake.
William and his brothers worked the farm with their dad and grandpa. They plowed the fields and planted the crops. Cotton was the main cash crop. Unfortunately, the first planting was flooded when the river banks overflowed the fields. This destroyed the crops. When it was dry enough they replanted only to be ruined by a second flood. It was too late in the season to attempt a third planting even if they had the money.
We planted cotton and corn. The crops came up looking really good. We milked the cows and sold the cream to the milk truck that picked it up daily in five-gallon cans. The creamery in Batesville paid each month by check.
One day I was cultivating corn in the bottom behind the barn. That evening when I quit I left the tractor in the bottom where I quit cultivating. Early the next morning I heard a swooshing noise. I opened the door and looked outside to see what it was. The bottom was flooded. I could not see the tractor or the crops. The tractor was totally under water. I was disappointed. No crops and the tractor was ruined.
Dad and I got the tractor out when the river went down. We parked it behind the house on the high side of the hill. Dad and I cleaned the tractor up. Dad bought new pistons and cylinder assemblies. It was like new when we finished it.
(222) William E. “Bill” Davidson Family (223) WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
Later after the bottoms dried out we planted a second crop. It too looked real good but not for long. A second flood ruined the crops again. This time the tractor was behind the house.
William’s brother, Gene, went to Thayer, Missouri, to go to high school. His brother, Bob, took the farm truck and went to Missouri to work at a diary. William stayed on the farm and helped his dad and grandpa cut and bale hay to sell. It was the only meager cash realized from all the expense and work.
I left August 22nd to go back to Moore. Mom gave me a pillowcase to put my clothes in. I told Mom and Dad good-bye. Dad said, “I’m sorry I have no money to give you.” I said, “Dad, fifty cents is all I have, but I’ll make it.” I started walking and hitchhiking to Moore.
A lady stopped and gave me a ride. It was a 1938 Ford coupe. She asked if I could drive. I told her I could. She let me drive for a while then said she was tired and wanted to sleep. She said to wake her when we got to West Plains, Missouri. That was where she lived.
The next ride I got was a Sunflower gasoline tanker truck. He asked me if I could drive a semi-trailer truck. I had the audacity to tell him I could. I drove for a while and he said to wake him when we got to Tulsa. He gave me five dollars and said to buy a bus ticket to Oklahoma City.
When I got to Oklahoma City I had enough money to buy a train ticket to Moore. There I went to the postmistress, Mrs. Morrow. She was a lady I knew.
William lived with the Morrow family in Moore. She was a divorcee with three girls and a boy to raise. They were neighbors when William’s family lived on the Johnson Place at Moore. She was post mistress and had a contract for janitorial work at the Moore School. He earned his keep by helping with the janitorial work.
I stayed with the Morrow family until November. The next oldest daughter’s name was Dorothy. Saturdays Dorothy and I worked all day cleaning the school building. We swept, mopped, dusted, and cleaned windows. It took all day.
One Saturday Mrs. Morrow told her oldest daughter, Barbara, to clean the house, do dishes, feed the small children, and have supper fixed. When Mrs. Morrow, Dorothy, and I got home Barbara had done nothing. It made me angry and I told off Barbara in no uncertain terms. Mrs. Morrow told me I was not her father and that it was best if I left. I took my pillowcase and meager belongings and was gone.
I walked to town and saw the door was open to the weekly town newspaper, The Moore Messenger. I asked the man if he needed help. He asked if I could run a printing press. I told him I couldn’t but I sure could learn. He asked where I lived. I told him I didn’t have a place to live. I told him what happened to our family in Arkansas. He gave me a small room in back of the shop.
It had a small pot-bellied coal burning stove. I used it for heat and to cook on top. There was a cot for me to sleep on. He went home and got a blanket for me. This was the middle of November. I went to school every day and ran the printing press at night. I was paid five dollars a week.
I also got work cleaning the local drug store at night. I earned enough to buy food and have a little extra to spend.
In the meantime William’s parents moved back to Oklahoma City with his sister, Meta Lu (Ann), and youngest brother, Marvin (Sam). They lived at their old address, 3608 NW 13th Street. Later, Gene (Don), and Bob joined them. They went to school in Oklahoma City. Bill continued to go to school at Moore.224 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 225 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
William Lee Davidson – age 17
On a visit to see his folks William met a young girl, Mary Elizabeth Grisham, on a blind date. She lived at 3608 NW 14th Street. A romance blossomed and they were soon seriously dating.
Early one weekend in February I had a little money left over to go rollerskating. I had learned that Mom and Dad with the rest of the family were living at our old house in Oklahoma City. I went to see them. I asked my brother, Bob, to go skating with me. He said, “No. I have a date with a girl after church. She has a little busy-body sister you can take for a date.” 1 We met them after church. Bob took his date and left. I saw this little girl he called the “little busy-body.” I said to myself, “What a beauty. This is my girl forever.” We sat on the street curb talking until her folks came home. Her name was Mary. I had to hustle to catch the interurban back to Moore.
I dated her the next three weekends. Then on March third my family celebrated my eighteenth birthday. Mary was there to help celebrate.
World War II was still in full force in 1944 when William turned eighteen. He was drafted before he graduated from high school. William went to Hardy to visit his Grandma and Grandpa Davidson. Then, he reported for induction into the Navy and basic training.
I wanted to see my Grandpa and Grandma Davidson before I had to report to the service. I hitchhiked to Evening Shade and spent four days with them. I then hitchhiked back to Moore. I got all my things together and told everybody good-bye.
I went to Oklahoma City where my folks lived. On April 8th I reported for induction. I wanted to be assigned to the Army Air Corps. When they asked what branch of service I wanted I told them Air Corps. The Navy man setting there said, “You look like a Navy man to me.” So, I had to go to the Navy.
They gave us two weeks to get our affairs in order. They gave us each a sealed packet and said to report to the train station with packet in hand. I dated Mary till I had to report. Mother, Mary and I reported to the train station at nine thirty o’clock that morning. At eleven o’clock we said our good-byes. I got on the train and three days later arrived in San Diego, California.2
1 (She actually was a niece. Bob was dating her aunt, but he assumed they were sisters because the aunt lived with them.)
2 (In the Navy William began to go by the name “Bill.”)226 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 227 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
Bill took boot training at the Naval Base at San Diego. It was up at four o’clock every morning, formation, physical training, close order drill, gas mask drill, and gunnery training. After five weeks they were given a one- week pass.
Bill returned to Oklahoma City. He and Mary were married June 20, 1944, at her parent’s home by the Portland Avenue Baptist Church minister, Rev. Sewell. In a few days Bill returned to San Diego and completed basic and advanced training.
Bill was sent to Camp Bradford near Norfolk, Virginia, for beach landing training. He was assigned to Amphibious Landing Division 1056. He trained to make beachhead landings off LST’s. They are flat bottom ships with bow doors that open and ramp down to unload army tanks. December 1, 1944, Bill was assigned to LST-982 that had participated in the D-Day landing on Normandy Beach. It suffered considerable damage. It was back in Norfolk for repair and retrofit. This is where Bill was assigned to the ship.
The shakedown cruise for LST-982 was to haul a load of aviation fuel in 55-gallon drums to Iceland. On the return trip the ship stopped at Davisville, R.I., to take on the pontoons. From there it sailed through Panama Canal and up the California coast to Long Beach. The crew was due one week of leave.
Bill took his leave and arranged to meet Mary in Phoenix. The day Mary arrived he got telegraph orders to return immediately to the ship. He hitchhiked from Phoenix to Los Angles.
I called Mary and told her to meet me in Phoenix at my Aunt Elsie’s house. The day I arrived Aunt Elsie received telegraphed orders for me to return to the ship immediately. Mary was on the train that I was supposed to get on to go back to Long Beach. I spent the night with Mary. Six o’clock the next morning I kissed her good-bye and hitchhiked to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles a chauffeur driven limousine stopped and picked Bill up. The man asked where he was going. Bill said. “Long Beach.” On the way the man asked Bill if knew who he was. Bill said, “No.” The man said he was Howard Hughes.
Bill had no idea who Howard Hughes was. He was just a kid from Oklahoma and had never heard of Howard Hughes. He had no idea what Howard Hughes looked like. All Bill knew was the man said he was Howard Hughes.
When they arrived at dockside in Long Beach LST-982 was gone. It had sailed. Bill said, “Oh, boy! I guess I’m AWOL.” The man said maybe not and went to talk to the Executive Officer in charge. He told the man LST-982 had sailed for Port Hueneme north of Long Beach.
The chauffeur drove them to a nearby office complex. The man got out and told the chauffeur to drive Bill to Port Hueneme near Oxnard. In about an hour they arrived at the dock in Port Hueneme. The chauffeur let Bill out and drove away.
As Bill walked up the gangplank the Petty Officer in charge told him he was AWOL. He asked Bill who it was that brought him there in that limousine. Bill acted tough and said, “Howard Hughes.” The Petty Officer didn’t believe him, but was impressed with the fact a limousine had brought him to the ship. He let Bill on board and did not report him AWOL.
Bill went below to his bunk and slept two hours when the alert sounded to get underway out to sea. They were under way about two hours when a leak was discovered in the salt water cooler that cooled fresh water for Engine Number Two.
They changed course and went to Seattle, Washington, for repairs. Two days later they left for Hawaii.
In Hawaii I bought Mary a pair of shoes. I had bought her a pair in Panama. Shoes were rationed in the States. Mary needed shoes but had no shoe stamps. Shoes were not rationed 228 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 229 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
in Panama and Hawaii. We sailed from Hawaii. We did not know where we were going.
Later we arrived at Johnson Island where we unloaded aviation fuel. The island was just big enough for airplanes to land and take off. There was a small building for a barracks, a small mess hall, a fueling station and a repair hanger. A ship was sunk about a mile from the beach. It was sunk by the Japs when they tried to destroy the island which was a fueling and repair stop for patrol planes in the Philippines area.
From Johnson Island LST-982 participated in the landing at Okinawa. Bill did not want to relive the experience by telling about it. From Okinawa they went on sea patrol. While on patrol they encountered a typhoon. It battered the ship for almost two days. They then made landings in the Philippines, Negros, and Cebu. They sailed to Palau Island for three days rest. Then they started training for a landing in Tokyo Bay.
We became part of the flotilla being assembled to make the pending invasion of Japan. There were ships everywhere as far as I could see. Battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, landing ships, PT-boats, etc. After a few days the sea turned bad. We feared a typhoon. Our worst fears were realized. It lasted two days. Our sister ship lost the bow doors and had to go into dry dock.
A few weeks later we were ordered to sail a due southeast course and ordered not to look back. However, we did look back, but could not figure out what we saw. Later, we learned on the radio that we saw the atomic bomb cloud over Japan.
I passed my exam for promotion that was over due. The next day I was awarded my new Petty Officer stripes. Three weeks later we were ordered to Tuvalu-Nui Island a part of the Truk Atoll in Oceanesia to take Japanese POW soldiers to Tokyo.
We crossed the equator and date line at the same time. All the crew got “Shell Back” certificates. We were now real seafaring sailors. When we sailed back to the Philippines I had enough points to go home. I got off LST-982 and onto a banana boat with about a hundred other sailors and sailed for home.
I was processed at the Norman Naval Base. Just before I was discharged the Navy made me an offer. They said if I would sign up they would give me a 30-day leave and an additional stripe, which would make me a Second Class Petty Officer. I respectfully declined and took my discharge.
When Bill was discharged from the Navy he came home to Oklahoma City to be with Mary. In the meantime Mary had graduated from Central High School. They stayed with her parents a short time until they got a place of their own in the southeast part of Oklahoma City. It wasn’t much. It could best be characterized as a glorified chicken house. It had been cleaned up, painted, and had electricity. They carried water for household use. They bathed in a galvanized tub using water heated on the stove. They used an outhouse.
Later, Bill and Mary bought a house with a VA-loan in Dell City southeast of Oklahoma City. Their son, Johnny Lee, was born May 19, 1947, and their son Jimmy Lynn was born July 31, 1950 while they lived there.
Bill took on-the-job-training with Otis Elevator Company and worked for them installing and repairing elevators. He changed jobs and went to work for Greenlease-Moore in Oklahoma City as a parts man. Later he worked for the Cadillac Motor Division through a Cadillac distributor for Oklahoma City handling warranty service.
Cadillac sent Bill and Mary to the factory in Detroit. Bill went through their school for warranty customer relations. Mary went through the parts department management school. They returned to Oklahoma City and worked for the Oklahoma City Cadillac distributor another two years.
In the meantime their son, Joseph Allen, was born June 11, 1953, and their daughter, Deborah Jean, was born October 4, 1954.230 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 231 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
Cadillac offered Bill an opportunity that involved a move to Liberal, Kansas, to work warranties with the Doll Cadillac dealership with the understanding he would be transferred to the Kansas City office when he got the dealership back in the black. Bill went to Liberal in January, 1959. Mary and the children moved there in July the same year.
Bill worked with Cadillac nine years at the Doll dealership. Mary worked in the parts department part of the time. Bill got the warranty operation in the black the second year. Cadillac never made good on their part of the deal. So, Bill quit. He worked two years with American Motors before they went out of business. He then leased a Mobil service station for two years. The property owner would not renew the lease so he had to give that up.
Bill went to work for Freightliner Trucks, the dealer for White and Autocar heavy-duty trucks. A number of years ago he completed a course in electrical training at Oklahoma City University. More recently he had forty hours of vocational technical schooling in automotive electrical systems. He was the electrical technician for Freightliner. He rebuilt starters and alternators, and repaired truck and automobile electrical systems. He worked fifteen years at Freightliner. One day the owner died. His daughter took over. She made a lot of changes and fired all the old mechanics. Subsequently, she ran the business into bankruptcy.
As far back as 1963 Bill began repairing and rebuilding starters, generators and alternators as a part-time sideline. When he left Freightliners Trucking in 1980 he started his own business, B and M Rebuilders, and devoted full time to his business rebuilding starters, generators, alternators, and electrical systems on RV’s.
Bill and Mary were active in their church and for several years made annual treks to Mexico for relief work at church orphanages.
In 1992 the lady who was manager of the school bus drivers for the Liberal School District asked Bill to become a driver. He has been driving a school bus ever since. He also does electrical work on the school buses and repairs starters and alternators while also operating his B and M Rebuilders business.
Bill and Mary’s son, Johnny Lee, served in the Air Force during the Viet Nam era and after twenty years service retired from the Air Force. He lives in Liberal with his wife, Margaret, and their daughter, Isabell.
Bill and Mary’s son, Jimmy Lynn, drives eighteen-wheeler tanker trucks for Phillips. He lives in Fritch, Texas, with his second wife, Pat. Jimmy’s children by his first wife, Ruth, are Brandi Dawn born 26 April 1973; and Joshua Dean born 3 June 1975.
Bill and Mary’s daughter, Deborah Jean “Debbie”, and her husband, Randy Schmitzer, live in Turpin, Oklahoma. They have no children. Debbie is a pharmaceutical technician at Wal-Mart in Liberal. She has two children from previous marriages. They are Angela Marie Horton born 19 February 1974; and Julian Carl Holt born 14 June 1977.
Bill and Mary’s son, Joseph Allen was a cook in several leading restaurants. He died August 2, 1996, and is buried in Restlawn Cemetery at Liberal.
Bill and Mary celebrated their 62nd Wedding Anniversary June 20, 2006 in Liberal.
In addition to running his repair and rebuilding business and driving a school bus Bill sometimes writes poetry for fun and relaxation. Here is a poem he wrote about school bus drivers:
I LOVE MY JOB! I DO LOVE MY JOB!
I love my job. I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss, she is the best!
I love her boss, and all the rest
For I know we all do our very best.232 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 233 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
I love my route and its destination.
I even hate spring break for vacation.
I love my diesel bus, it’s bright yellow.
I love the soft seats for each gal and fellow.
It gets me greasy and sometimes breaks down
With no warning to make me frown.
I think my job is swell,
There’s nothing I like so well.
I love to work with my peers,
I love to hear their leers and jeers.
I’m happy to be here.
I’m full of cheer.
I’m the happiest school bus driver
In all these lands.
I’ll wave good-bye
With my cuffed hands
Cause I even love those friendly men
In their clean white coats.
Those friendly men with arm totes
Who came today
To take me away.
Bill also has strong religious convictions. Here is a poem he wrote about his beliefs:
LIVE IN HIM
God said He would send His Son
Salvation would be won,
Christ was born in Bethlehem
So that man would live again,
Thirty years he walked the land
To all in need He lent His hand,
On the hard wood of the Cross
He suffered and died for us,
On the third day He did rise
Now he lives no more to die,
Now we too can live anew
Live in Him need all we do.
Bill turned eighty years of age on March 3, 2006. His daughter, Debbie, and her husband, Randy, planned and held a surprise birthday party for him Saturday, March 4th at their home in Turpin, Oklahoma, ten miles south of Liberal. Attending were:
• William “Bill” Lee and Mary Elizabeth (Grisham) Davidson
• Donald Gene and Patricia “Pat” Sue (Paschall) Davidson
• Samuel Marvin and Martha Rowena (Vance) Davidson
• Johnny Lee and Margaret Rosemary (Brewer) Davidson and daughter Isabelle Elizabeth Faye
• Jimmy Lynn and Patricia “Pat” (Crittenden) Davidson
• Brandie Dawn (Davidson) Reynolds and children Kathrine Rachelle, Felicity Nicole, Sydney Deanna, and Mattie-Belle Elaine
• Debroah Jean (Davidson) and Randy Schmitzer
• Virginia Hysell (Mary’s niece) and friend, Kirk Pinkerton
• Heather (Vaughn) and Mike Smith and children Gabe, Shepard, and Melody (Heather is Ann [Davidson] Melton’s granddaughter)
• Miranda and James Grimes and children Clarissa, Raceton, and Natalie (Miranda is Pat’s [Jim’s wife] daughter by a previous marriage.)
• David and Virginia Hall (friends)
• Brandon Hall (friend)
• Vernon and Jean Reieger (friends)234 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 235 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
Bill’s wife, Mary Elizabeth, died September 23, 2006, at Liberal, Seward County, Kansas. She is buried at Restlawn Cemetery next to their son, Joseph Allen. The funeral service was held at the Christian Life Center Church in Liberal with the Reverend Ken Willard officiating. The casket bearers were: Don Nash, Bobby Adams, Kelly Sherrill, Alvin Sherrill, Scott Bromlow, and Dee Reynolds.
Following is Mary’s obituary as it appeared in the Liberal Southwest Daily Times, page 2, Sunday, September 24, 2006:
In Loving MemoryMary Elizabeth Davidson
Mary Elizabeth Davidson, 77, departed this world to be with the Lord on Saturday September 23, 2006 at Southwest Medical Center in Liberal, Kan.
She was born December 18, 1929, to Homer E. and Villa (Woffard) Grisham at Enid, Okla.
She married William L. Davidson June 20, 1944, at Oklahoma City, Okla. He survives.
She graduated from Central High School in 1947 and attended Hills Business College in Oklahoma City.
She was a bookkeeper for a local warehouse, a nurse’s aide for Liberal Good Samaritan Center and a bus aide for USD 480 for the last 10 years.
She was a 15-year member of the Rebecca Lodge in Del City, Okla., and Liberal.
She was a member of Christian Life Center in Liberal.
She is survived by two sons, Johnny L. Davidson and wife Margaret, of Liberal and Jimmy L. Davidson and wife, Patricia, of Fritch, Texas; one daughter, Debbie (Davidson) Schmitzer and husband, Randy, of Turpin, Okla.; one sister, Beverly Denwalt and husband, Linn, of El Reno, Okla.; nine grandchildren, Brandie Reynolds, Josh Davidson, Miranda Grimes, Julian Holt, Shane Hammerschmidt, Angela Whitley, Thomas Schmitzer, Heather McMillan and Isabell Davidson; 19 great-grandchildren; and many friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents and one son, Joseph Davidson.
During the service for Mary the Reverend Ken Willard read the following which were written by Mary’s daughter, Debbie, and her son, Jimmy:
I remember Mom teaching me (through her own experience) that you can do all things through Christ with his strength.
I was in the Sixth Grade and we were just arriving to church. At that time we attended Evangical United Brethren. At that time my Mom was a chain smoker (smoking like a chimney on a ten below winter night).
We pulled up in the parking lot. She put out her cigarette and said, “With God’s strength that will be my last.” Silently I was singing my hallelujah praises. To that day, my Mother never picked up another cigarette.
My point is my mother was a woman of strength. She never complained about how she felt. God can give us all strength and comfort through anything we give to him to take care of.
God bless to my Dad, Brothers and their families, and all of our friends. We will miss our Mother dearly. – Debbie
I remember when I was young I used to go snake hunting. I was at the Cimarron River bridge with a friend when we found a den of blue racer snakes. I put about twenty snakes in a tow sack and took them home.
Not wanting to leave the snakes outside I took them upstairs, twisted the top, but not tying it off thinking they would stay in the sack and I would take them outside the next day and turn them loose.
Those snakes had a different idea and they worked their way out of that tow sack and decided they would make their self at home in my bedroom.
My Mom not knowing those snakes were on the beds and on the floor went upstairs to take some of my laundry and put 236 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 237 WILLIAM LEE DAVIDSON
it away when to her surprise there were twenty or so snakes in my room checking things out. I had just got home when I heard my Mom scream. Not knowing my Mom could move so fast I realized she could move fast enough that she could make her shoes smoke.
In the end I realized the real meaning that you can laugh and cry at the same time cause I laughed, then I cried. – Jim.
Reverend Willard said their church always had a time when anyone could say or read a message to the congregation. He said Mary sometimes always read this same story about the old violin written by Myra Brooks Welch:
The Touch of the Master’s Hand
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile: “What am I bid, good folks,” he cried, “Who’ll start the bidding for me? A dollar, a dollar; then two. Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars, once; three dollars twice; going for three.” But no, from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow. Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as caroling angels sing.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low, said, “What am I bid for the old violin?” And, he held it up with the bow. “A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand. And, who’ll make it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand twice, and going and gone”, said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand what changed it’s worth.” Swift came the reply: “The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, a mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game, and he travels on. He is “going once and going twice.” He’s going and almost gone, but the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul and change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.