Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth.
Although he died in 2006 and so “only” lived to be 95, there is something about the 100th anniversary of anything that is worth noting.
So it is with my dad, Harvey Davis. Here are some things I’ve been thinking of:
1. He was born in Alabama — no banjo on his knee — but grew up in Akron, Ohio. It’s fascinating to me how many people from Good Shepherd also grew up there . . . though of course long after my dad.
2. His family did not have much in the way of wealth or education. Yet he miraculously worked his way through the University of Akron in the depths of the Great Depression, earned a full scholarship to SMU Law School, graduated from that school with what at the time was its highest GPA ever, and then returned to join the faculty there after World War II.
3. He married my mom in 1937 and they stayed married til death did them part 69 years later. Together, they raised eight children and lived in places such as Falls Church, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; and then long stretches in both Dallas and Austin, Texas.
4. He was 50 when I was born. I’m turning 50 in November. No.
5. He was unfailingly loyal to anything related to SMU or the Democratic Party.
6. My father and I are different in so many ways — body type, temperament, religious views, and thickness of hair. He still had a full head of hair at his death. I don’t think he realized how good he had it on top of his head.
7. In spite of our differences, every once in awhile I see my inner Harvey Davis come out. Especially the way a ball bouncing in any indoor space will just about send me over the edge.
8. From my point of view, he was an ideal “tennis father.” Many parents of young tennis players pressure their children, monitor their practices, and cause scenes at tournament sites. Dad did none of that. He would remain mute during my matches, never criticizing me, my opponents, or the officials. I also took for granted all the sacrifices he made to go with me to tournaments across Texas and around the country.
9. He was born before Adolf Hitler, Charles Lindbergh and Jonas Salk changed the world forever and yet died after Osama bin Laden, Steve Jobs, and Christiaan Barnard had done the same thing.
10. He attended Good Shepherd once back in 1999 and the experience was sufficiently different from his previous exposure to church life that he pulled me aside before the service even began and said, “I want to make a gift to your building fund.” He later explained what happened this way: “It felt so good in there that I just felt like I wanted to be part of a winning team.” High praise indeed.