Bud Davis: ‘Life is good.’
Sitting in their sun-streaked Tahoe City restaurant, the Sawtooth Cafe, Nanci and Randy Davis recounted memories of Maurice “Bud” Davis, 81, who passed away last week in his Highlands home.
They remembered the sayings Bud lived his life by ” phrases like “to have a friend, you have to be a friend,” and, “Only boring people get bored.” They recalled the countless soccer, football, baseball, softball games, as well as the many ski competitions Bud attended to cheer his kids on.
Randy Davis, his son, described a day on the cross-country bike trip with his dad in the summer of 2006, when the duo rode from Lake Tahoe to Pueblo, Colorado.
One day in Utah, the father and son climbed a 25-mile-long hill. After every turn, Randy said they anticipated the top of the hill, only to come around the bend and face another slope.
“That was one of the most fun days though,” Randy Davis said. It was a long, slow climb and so there wasn’t much else to do but talk to each other ” just tell jokes and talk.”
Nanci Davis described her husband as a spirited adventurer. Bud never hesitated to seize an opportunity and pursue an endeavor ” “for better or for worse,” she said.
“He said he never worked a day in his life,” Nanci said. “He just did what was fun.”
Born on a sharecropping corn and pig farm in Iowa in 1926, Bud was the youngest of five children. His family moved to San Francisco when the Golden Gate Bridge was under construction. Bud was one of the first to walk across the national landmark, Nanci said.
Bud Davis’ life was filled with extraordinary experiences. He sailed the China Sea on a minesweeper for the U.S. Navy in World War II. He toured the nation with a carnival, performing on a trampoline, hand and head balancing, unicycle and adagio act on stage, performing at nightclubs, state and county fairs. He swam with a shark at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco and rode the back of a killer whale at Marine World.
After teaching for 28 years in San Francisco, Davis opened a scuba diving school on Catalina Island, taught ski lessons at Squaw Valley and coached local sports teams.
“He just loved being around kids and watching them succeed,” said Patti Lovely, a close friend of the Davis family.
Bud and Nanci Davis moved to Tahoe 20 years ago with their children Jessica and Randy to ski and live in an outdoor community that fostered lifelong friendships, Nanci said.
“It was Bud’s idea to move up here ” just for an adventure,” she said.
It didn’t take long for Bud Davis and his family to become involved in the schools and the community. Every year he dove for abalone for an annual benefit dinner. He hosted community events, meetings and concerts at his family’s restaurant, the Sawtooth Cafe.
“He was just … he was tireless,” Lovely said. “I don’t think I’ll ever meet another man like him.”
Over the course of his life Bud was diagnosed with cancer four times, beating the odds more than once and outliving the medical prognosis.
“That’s something he always used to say,” Nanci Davis said. “‘In the face of adversity, you just have to work through it.'”
Bud strived to be a model for living with cancer to others facing similar circumstances.
“If I had to sum up my philosophy, it’s simply ‘Life is good. Enjoy it.'” Bud Davis said in an account recorded by Carolyn Rueben before he died.
Last May, Bud was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the second time. He died on Jan. 8, but will be remembered by many.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be given to The Boys’ and Girls’ Club of North Lake Tahoe or the North Tahoe Boosters Club.
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