I would like to pay tribute to Mary Davis, one of Nelsonville’s finest ladies. During her recent funeral service Pastor Peter Galbraith, minister at the First Presbyterian Church, said he had not had the pleasure of meeting Mary in his short five-year tenure here but commented that he wishes he had. I so appreciated his sentiment at the time it was expressed but his words came to mind again as I attending the debut of “Our Town Nelsonville."
As the wonderful history of our community unfolded I couldn’t help but think of Mary, her involvement in our community and her commitment to make Nelsonville better a better place to live and work. Mary was not born and raised here, she was a resident by marriage when she became the bride of O.W. Davis but I don’t think even those closest to her realized it. Some of us were a bit baffled when she would mention her efforts in organizing a reunion for her graduating class of Athens High School because we all assumed she went to school here.
Ask Mary any question about Nelsonville’s history and not only would she answer but she would come up with clippings and photos to document her response. "Nelsonville in Pictures," the book she and Virginia May compiled, is a constant resource for pictures and places that once lived on our streets.
Mary lived for many years at the family farm adjacent on State Route 691 at the entrance of the campus. She was a supporter of Hocking College and the college leased her some of her farmland for pastures where its many horses grazed beyond the split rail fence. It was quite common to get a call from Mary as a reminder that it was time to repair a fence, trim the fence line or to renew the lease. She didn’t miss much!
How many of us flinch at the times we remember not only Mary’s encouraging us to join and support this or that women’s organization as well as the many times we told her no, we simply didn’t have time with our young families? She did not accept refusal easily because she never joined any organization for the sake of seeing her name on the roster. Mary was a major doer who managed to get things done, at times when others failed or lost interest. Her obituary only hit the high spots, Mary did and was involved in so much more.
Mary was outspoken, opinionated and never one to mince words but she had such a good and kind heart. We all could have learned from Mary!
I wish I had spent more time with Mary. I wish I had picked her brain to save all the knowledge that was stored there. Like others who have gone before her, we have lost yet another invaluable opportunity for an oral history not only of Nelsonville but the Southeastern Ohio community.
I wish I had found time to take her to dinner or lunch or done more than simply stuck my head in her door just to say hello. We miss you, Mary.
* * *
Judy Sinnott is a member of The Messenger's Board of Contributors. She's a past recipient of the Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award, a former member of Nelsonville Towne Center Board, Athens County Convention & Visitor Bureau (President), Athens County Public Libraries (President), and retired from Hocking College as public relations director.