Column by Scott Coopwood
In January 2011, I was walking out of the Baptist Church in the small Delta town of Shelby when someone grabbed my arm and pulled me out of my father’s funeral procession.
“I know the pain is great, but this too will pass; and when it does, make sure you hold on to the good memories of your father and forget the bad ones. They don’t matter anymore,” Dr. Stacy Davidson whispered in my ear.
I loved my father, but our relationship was often challenged. Dr. Davidson was completely aware of that.
This past Tuesday, Dr. Stacy Davidson died in Oxford where he and his wife, Fay, had been living for a year now. However, before their move, Dr. Davidson and Fay lived here in my town of Cleveland for decades, where he served as one of our town’s physicians. Like so many in Cleveland, I don’t remember not knowing Dr. Davidson because from the time I was a child, he was our family eye doctor. But, I really came to know him when his sons Stacy and Friley were my KA fraternity brothers at Ole Miss.
Friley was Mr. Everything at Ole Miss, and he was super popular. I can’t count the great times we had together on that campus and in his boat at Sardis Lake, often carrying with us some of the most beautiful girls that ever attended Ole Miss. Friley knew them all. Many of those great times also took place here in Cleveland when we came home from college on weekends and launched that same boat on Benoit Lake. Our Cleveland outings often passed through the Davidson home here, and Dr. Davidson mostly watched from the sidelines. Not so with “Miss. Fay.” She would jump right in the middle of our group talking to our friends, laughing and sharing stories. All of our KA friends loved Fay, and they looked forward to seeing her when we visited Cleveland.
During Friley’s senior year, he served as the editor of The Ole Miss Annual, which was a huge deal; and at that same time, he also held an officer’s position in our fraternity. On any given Saturday night during the football season at the KA house, we might have 1,500 people dancing and partying to whatever band was playing. One particular night, a member of our fraternity jumped on stage and stopped the music. Through the PA system, he shouted, “Friley Davidson, where is Friley Davidson, has anyone seen Friley?” Silence came over the 1,500 or so as they stopped and looked around for Friley. As I stood there, I cringed thinking something very bad must have taken place for the KA’s to stop the party. After a few moments, someone located toward the back of the crowd yelled, “I’m right here.” It was Friley. Then, the speaker at the microphone on the stage delivered these words I’ll never forget: “Your mother is on the phone looking for you!” The crowd of 1,500 erupted in laughter. Then, several started chanting, “Fay, Fay, Fay!” I don’t think our members knew the names of the other mothers, but everyone at the KA house knew Fay!
Friley passed a few years ago as well. But, during their time, the Davidson family were great supporters of Cleveland, Delta State, Ole Miss and the state of Mississippi, as Dr. Davidson served on the board of the Institutions of Higher Learning for many years.
The Davidson family will always have a special place in my heart, and I know they will, as well, in the hearts of others in the Delta and around Mississippi.
Dr. Stacy Davidson’s obituary, provided by Coleman Funeral Home, can be read here.
Scott Coopwood is a seventh-generation Deltan who lives in Cleveland, Mississippi with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current.