Those who knew Buddy Davis, loved Buddy Davis

(From left) Malcolm Butler, Teddy Allen, Keith Prince, Dave Nitz, Scott Boatright, Tom Morris, and (front) O.K. “Buddy” Davis. (Photo by Kane McGuire)

 

Wednesday was the third anniversary of Buddy Davis’ passing. The Lincoln Parish Journal thought no better way to remember him than have three of our writers each provide a glimpse into what Buddy meant to them and their lives and careers. Enjoy.

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By T. Scott Boatright

It never fails.

Something exciting happens in the wild and crazy world of sports, and I immediately and instinctively reach for my phone to hear his thoughts on the matter.

Then I realize I can’t make the call. I haven’t been able to make those calls for three years now.

You see, my friend and brother, O.K. “Buddy” Davis left this earthly plane on July 13, 2019.

But he’s still here, dancing through my thoughts, cracking bad puns and taking good-natured shots at me, making me feel that he misses me as much as I miss him.

I can still hear his cackling chuckle and see the sparks gleaming in his eyes as he would try to get a reaction from me after making one of those silly, bad puns. Oftentimes the sillier they were, the better. For Buddy, it was all about getting the reaction — the louder the groan he’d hear in return, the louder his giggles became.

Buddy loved to affect people — to bring those special moments and thoughts we often tuck deep into the corners of our minds, protectively shielding them from the world. 

That’s what made him such a great writer. He knew how to softly dig deep into one’s psyche and bring it all out into the open, showing sides of people that most had never seen before.

The quips he made were often to break the ice and loosen things up, allowing him to get to the real stories to be told.

And one time Buddy nearly had to tell the story of my own departure from life. Yes — Buddy Davis nearly killed me once.

It was on a Friday night in East Lansing, Michigan, where the Louisiana Tech football team was to play Michigan State the following day. And as usual, Tech’s usual traveling media crew gathered at a restaurant to share a little fun and laughter.

But laughter can be dangerous sometimes.

Buddy and longtime Tech photographer Tom Morris took it upon themselves to see how much they could crack me up, trading those bad quips and puns they were famous for when together.

And one of those jokes — I really don’t remember what it was about — literally knocked me to the floor as a crouton I had been eating zoomed down my windpipe as one of them made me laugh.

And as I momentarily rolled on the floor, eyes tearing up as I gasped for air, with people turning to see what the commotion was about -— those two roared with laughter. They had affected me all right.

When Buddy got serious, you knew something was up. One time he stalked and stormed around for a couple weeks. I couldn’t figure out what I had done to make him mad.

Eventually he told me about dropping an expensive camera lens and ruining it. I just looked at him and said, “Doggone Buddy, I thought I had done something to tick you off.”

He quickly assured me that wasn’t the case and apologized, and then softly started chuckling with that gleam in his eyes.

Buddy had affected me again — just as he still does today, three years after he left us.

And he always will.

 

Contact Scott at tscottboatright@gmail.com

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By Malcolm Butler

This past Wednesday was the third anniversary of the passing of arguably one of the greatest souls to ever call Lincoln Parish home: O.K. “Buddy” Davis.

I miss my friend.

Buddy was exactly that to so many during more than 50 years of covering our parish: he was everyone’s friend.

The former Ruston High and Louisiana Tech alum didn’t possess a mean bone in his not-so-athletic body. But dang you didn’t’ want to get into a scrap with him when it came to writing a gamer!

Buddy was undefeated in telling stories.

Big ones. Little ones. It didn’t matter.

Like probably thousands of us in Lincoln Parish, I have old Ruston Daily Leader clippings with my name in it from summer Dixie baseball games. Buddy was everywhere.

And he possessed a gift for making 10-year-old little leaguers feel just as important as the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of Hall of Famers, All-Americans and Olympians that he covered in his time with the RDL.

It’s funny. He did that for me even in his death.

Little did 10-year-old, offensively-challenged little league Malcolm know way back then that my career path would cross paths with Buddy two decades later. I became the head of the LA Tech Athletic Communications Department in 1999. It allowed me to not only work with the Lincoln Parish Legend, but Buddy became one of my great friends.

We traveled the country together following LA Tech teams. My first ever Tech football game as SID against defending national champion Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., in 1999, Buddy and I were almost left by the team bus after the game.

Buddy and I both did our best Ryan Moats impression in crossing Doak Walker Field, side-stepping some security guys and high-stepping the rest of the way to the buses that were already starting to pull away. At least that is how I remember it. I’m sure Buddy would too.

We had some great times together.

Even after suffering his stroke in July of 2013, just a week after being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Buddy found a way to cover Lincoln Parish from his bed at Princeton Place – the “Buddy Davis Suite” as we all called it.

Buddy never lost his love for writing. He never lost his ability to entertain. He could still hold court while laying in his Princeton Place bed.

What a guy.

I’ve been bestowed with a number of honors over the years, but being asked by Rick Hohlt and Scott Boatright to serve as a pallbearer at Buddy’s funeral on July 20, 2019, was one of the very best.

And once again, Buddy found a way to make little ole me feel more important than I actually am. As we walked out of the Presbyterian Church of Ruston carrying Buddy’s casket on a very HOT July day – great timing, Buddy – I was among a Who’s Who of Lincoln Parish legends.

Bert Jones. Aaron James. Teddy Allen. Just three Louisiana Sports Hall of Famers.

Dan Childress. Brad Laird. Just two state championship starting quarterbacks at Ruston High.

And then me. Yep. Buddy did it again. Made me feel more important than I was.

Lincoln Parish hasn’t been able to replace Buddy. My opinion is it never will.

But he left his lasting mark on our community. And Buddy’s legacy will always live on in the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame, the Grambling State Athletics Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

And it will live on in the memories of those of us who were lucky enough to call him our friend.

 

Contact Malcolm at georgemalcolmbutler24@gmail.com

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By Teddy Allen

Our friend David Smith with Argent in Ruston wrote me this week to tell me something I did know and something I didn’t.

What I did know: In the AL East, “the Yankees,” David wrote, “are looking like the team to beat.” No kidding. Like the Pacific is looking wet.

And something I did NOT know, something much more important: “Years ago,” he wrote, “I worked with Buddy Davis at the RDL.  One of the best men I’ve ever known, but I never understood how he could pull for the Yankees.”

As former Louisiana Tech athletic director Jim Oakes said to laughter in eulogizing Buddy three years ago this week, Buddy’s love for the Yankees, the Evil Empire, was his only real flaw.

Everyone loved Buddy. Even us Yankees haters. He was the perfect guy at the perfect place at the perfect time. No one could have done what he did for 50 years. No one but Buddy.

And if they physically could have, they could not have done it with the grace and servant’s-heart and humility that was, over a very long haul, his calling card.

Like Jim and a few others, I “spoke” at his funeral, and if ever a service deserved laughter and applause, it was Buddy’s. But I could not come close to pulling the trigger. It surprised me, but it was difficult to speak without nearly crying. I think this is why.

As soon as I looked at Buddy’s friends in the packed First Presbyterian Church in Ruston, for a split second, everyone looked 40 years younger. Just for a moment. And so I started talking, but I was thinking of that, and why that had just happened. And what I should have done was tear up the paper and notes in my hand and instead say what I was thinking.

And that is this: that for a moment, everyone was 40 years younger, and Buddy was The Local Sports Editor with a decade under his belt, now hitting his stride, a sports king with a pen in a parish filled with sports princes and princesses with so much athletic talent that it fills a quarter of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

And I wished he and everyone else could have lived it all over again. Because Buddy in the paper, “O.K.’s Corral,” Buddy at the games, Buddy cracking jokes, it will never be like that again, not with how sports news is presented — and not with Buddy gone.

And era is over.

And that’s sad.

But … aren’t we grateful we got to go along for the ride? And aren’t we grateful, grateful to have had a Buddy like that.

 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

 


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