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Ann Lee Davis (Roberts) slipped into the arms of our heavenly Father on Thursday, September 7, 2023. She was at home with much of the family she dearly loved as she drew her last breath. God blessed her to bless others.
Born on October 2, 1936, Ann was the middle child of Carl and Faye Roberts, Oklahoma City. She was a drum majorette and 1955 graduate of Capitol Hill high school. In May 1955, Arnold T. Davis, Jr. “Precious,” who had previously been engaged to her older sister Carolyn O’Sullivan (Roberts) of Mission Viejo California, came to her Oklahoma City home to sort out some kennel club paperwork. Ann answered the door, told Arnold she was graduating in a week and invited him to her graduation. They went out afterward, he let her drive his car which filled her with a sense of independence and freedom. One month later, on July 4, 1955, they would elope to Gainesville, Texas and marry before a Justice of the Peace. Arnold had Ann drive over the Red River so he couldn’t be accused of transporting a minor across state lines (she was 18). Ann’s parents were in the back seat. The newlyweds would call Shawnee home. Ann says she picked the Fourth of July for a couple of reasons – she loved America and, “This way, everyone can celebrate our anniversary with us!”
On December 19, 1956, Ann gave birth to her first child Dana Lynn Davis. The birth would, in many ways, chart the course of the couple's lives and almost 52 years of marriage for many decades. Dana was born with Down’s Syndrome and required special care and attention to help her develop. Ann and Arnold broke with societal norms and chose to raise their daughter at home. Ann had so much love to give and Dana would be her singular focus, at least for a little while. Despite a life expectancy of just 12 years, Dana would exceed all expectations, more than once, and was a joy-giver to everyone she met for 34 years.
Their second child Trey (Arnold T. Davis, III) would arrive four years later. Fourteen months after that, a second son Ron Allen was born. The boys would grow to be Dana’s “brat brothers” and the lovefest never ended. Ann was so very proud of her children and was their greatest supporter – even if she didn’t always understand or agree with them.
Her first of many, many projects – Ann sought to build a school for the mentally retarded (now referred to as people with an Intellectual Disability), as these children had no place to gather to obtain an education or socialize with other children, especially those with severe mental handicaps. To make her dream a reality, Ann enlisted the help of many
volunteers, Shawnee School Superintendent Gerald Chesney, and numerous other individuals and businesses. She sold concrete blocks on Main Street for $0.25 each. The land for the school, the labor to construct the facility, and many of the building materials were donated. Ann chose to name the school after local hero and American astronaut Gordon Cooper’s space capsule, Faith 7, because the school was built on faith and when it opened in 1964, there were seven students.
Ann and Arnold’s work for the mentally retarded would include the addition of a workshop built onto the school for students aging out of the public school system, the annual Faith 7 basketball game pitting Oklahoma All-State high school athletes against their counterparts from Texas, along with many other activities including the Pottawatomie County Association of the Mentally Retarded and its state affiliate. Ann’s legacy includes the creation of Dana’s Garden and the Celebration of Life Park to honor and memorialize all who made a difference in someone’s life.
A consumate saleswoman, Ann would initially work for Jay’s on Main Street selling children’s attire. From there, she spent a decade at Price’s Booterie selling shoes, hand bags and more. People would travel from Seminole, Wewoka, Meeker, Prague and other communities to shop with Ann. It was often said she could sell sand in the desert.
She would eventually manage Gloria’s Boutique and created a place for herself at Ann & You, Inc., a business she and Arnold owned and operated for 13 years. She helped numerous brides over the years and her unique style of gift wrapping made a present from Ann & You immediately recognizable. She also worked for Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency, Savvy Bites, many years at Ell’s Jewelry, and Rising Star Gymnastics.
Ann loved her adopted community of Shawnee. She loved Oklahoma. And, she was more patriotic than anyone you ever met. Her energy was boundless and she packed so much into her 86 years. A woman born with a servant’s heart, Ann sought to bring joy and spread love – especially to those who needed it most.
She loved the phrase former Judge Charles Henry had on a coffee mug, “Public service is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Ann and Arnold felt called to make their community even better and brighter. While Arnold served on the City Commission in the 70’s and again in the 90’s, Ann’s expertise was organizing and executing community-wide events.
She was heavily involved in the local activities to celebrate America’s Bi-Centennial in 1976. Ann was in the Junior Service League, the PTA, the Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce, and a huge supporter of Shawnee Wolves football (they had season tickets for years after they no longer had children in Shawnee Public Schools).
At the Shawnee airport, where her son Ron has made his own community, Ann helped fundraise for the Youth Aviation Adventure Day event for eight years and she obtained donations to feed the pilots participating in the Shawnee Air Show for more than five years.
She was an ambassador and home host for the Shawnee Sister Cities organization. For many years, she organized the annual Sister Cities’ International Dinner and Kite Festival to raise the funds necessary to send a delegation of Shawnee-area 8th grade students for an exchange visit to Nikaho, Japan. She led two different delegations to Nikaho herself as chairperson. She also hosted young people in her home who were traveling America as part of the Up With People organization in the 1970s.
An early participant in the Shawnee Little Theatre, Ann would serve as fundraising chairperson to garner the money necessary to build the community theatre’s current home. Whether onstage or backstage, Ann found a home at SLT. Gifted with a wonderful sense of humor and great timing, she excelled in comedic roles. She was prop mistress on numerous productions and scoured the city for the perfect item, clothing or furniture needed for a show. Ann also headed up season ticket sales for several years and was an integral part in its growth and expanding community support.
Ann lent her time and talents to the Oklahoma State Centennial Celebration, former First Lady Kathy Keating’s Hat’s Off to Women’s Health, the downtown Shawnee Jazz & Dessert Night on Main Street, and many church events and fundraisers as a member of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and, the past two decades, St. John Lutheran Church. In 1994, Ann had the honor of being selected to carry the Olympic Flame as the torch passed through Oklahoma on its way to Atlanta, Georgia and the Summer Olympic Games. She was chosen based on her volunteer work in Oklahoma.
Her passion for Christmas (and community) was on display every holiday season as lighted snowflakes hung from light poles on Main Street and major thoroughfares in Shawnee. Dubbed the “Snowflake Lady,” Ann proposed and spearheaded the project following a National League of Cities gathering she had attended with Arnold. She worked with the Tennessee manufacturer of the snowflakes and made a deal with the city that it would buy one snowflake for every two she sold. She also enlisted the help of OG&E to wire the light poles from which the snowflakes were mounted. For a couple of decades, more than four hundred snowflakes welcomed both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday along with visitors to the City of Shawnee.
Perhaps her proudest achievement happened in 1986. The pending birth of her first grandchild spurred her to take action about something she’d kept hidden for a long time. Very few people knew that Ann was illiterate. She wanted to be able to read to her grandchildren so she took classes through a literacy program. Her success and determination caused her to go public with her story, when asked. At that time, 25 percent of adults in Pottawatomie County were illiterate. The program hoped Ann’s story would encourage more adults to learn to read. The publicity surprised many people who had known her a long time. How could someone be successful in business and act in community theatre without the ability to read. Ann would smile and say “I had a memory like an elephant.”
Ann could always be counted on to provide food and comfort in time of distress, loss, loneliness, happiness and joyfulness. She loved to cook and bake. It’s impossible to guess the total number of pumpkin pecan pies, Everybody’s Favorite Sheet Cake (chocolate), bran muffins and pumpkin bread she baked and shared over the years. She had a gift and shared it with a smile.
Ann’s personal slogan was “I’d rather wear out than rust out!” and that’s pretty much what happened. Other Ann-isms included “I wouldn’t hurt you for a hundred dollars, as bad as I need the money” and “You can’t hurt me! I carried my babies till their feet dragged the floor.” Her children, grandchildren and their friends regularly heard, “Pretty is as pretty does but ugly’s all the way.” In her later years, Ann insisted on hugging “Heart to heart - we’ll get strength from each other.”
Ann is preceded in death and reunited with her husband Arnold “Precious”, daughter Dana Lynn, younger brother Greg, and parents Carl and Faye.
She is survived by the sister she adored, Carolyn, and her children, Trey and his wife Danalynn Marie Davis and grandchildren Nicole Danica and husband Michael Funk and great-grandson Taylor of Oklahoma City, Logan Taylor and wife Alyssa Davis and great-granddaughter Emerson Ann (“Em”) of Shawnee, granddaughters Nicolette, Natalie and Nylena Davis of Shawnee, granddaughter Kristen Bradley and great-granddaughter Eloise (“Ellie”) of Edmond and daughter-in-love Sharon Davis of Oklahoma City; her son Ron and his wife Sherry Davis of Choctaw, grandchildren Austin Taylor and wife Maddie Davis of Edmond, and Bailey Cheyenne and husband Wade Oller of Catoosa, along with numerous nieces, nephews, extended family members and many, many friends.
A Celebration of Life memorial service is scheduled for 10 AM, Saturday, September 16, 2023, at St.John Lutheran Church, 3610 N. Union in Shawnee.
The family respectfully requests that, in lieu of flowers, a tax-deductible tribute donation be made in Ann’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, act.alz.org.