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North Hudson loses a 'good neighbor'

Roger and Laura Davis sit for a photograph on the porch of their North Hudson home after being named Good Neighbors of the 2013 Pepper Festival. With them is their son Ty, now a freshman at Valparaiso University in Indiana. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton)1 / 3
The Destination Imagination team coached by Roger Davis, center, participates in the 2012 Global Competition in Knoxville, Tenn. The team was comprised of Hudson High School students, from left, Ty Davis, Erin Coyer, Kevin Pelzel and Seana Greene. They developed a website to highlight Hudson’s city parks that is still online at / 3
In December 2011, Laura Davis organized a group of volunteers to re-light the 55-foot spruce in Larry and Karlene Quale’s front lawn on Wisconsin Street North that had brightened the neighborhood for 25 Christmases. Larry Quale was unable to continue the practice after developing pancreatic cancer. From left are the Quale’s daughter Suzie Dettmann and her daughter Madelyn, Larry and Karlene Quale, and Laura and Roger Davis. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)3 / 3

Roger James Davis died Friday, March 28, in the home and community he had come to love.

The former North Hudson Village Board trustee, Destination Imagination manager and Good Neighbor of the 2013 Pepper Festival was 51 years old.

In September 2012, Davis was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable stomach cancer.

“Even when he was battling this cancer, he always had a smile for me. (He) always wanted to know how my day was,” said Laura Davis, his wife of 22 years. “(He was) the kind of guy who would do anything for anyone.”

When she met Davis in 1991, he preferred not wearing socks –- even in the winter.

Last Friday, as Davis was lingering near death, Laura took off the compression stockings he was wearing and told him he was free to go.

“It wasn’t too long after that that he passed,” she said.

Laura was the contact lens director at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ophthalmology when a mutual friend referred him to her to be fitted for lenses.

“He left the clinic and I said, now this is a nice guy. This is the kind of guy I’d like to date,” Laura recalled.

But she had other plans when he called to ask her out, and he thought she wasn’t interested. She had to call him to arrange the first lunch date.

They saw each other for the next 26 days in a row, got engaged with in a few months and were married within nine months of meeting.

Theirs was an instant friendship that grew into love beyond compare, Laura said.

“I guess for both of us it was always about living life to the fullest, making a difference, having fun,” she said.

She hadn’t heard of Ben and Jerry’s before meeting Davis. But after learning about his love for the ice cream and admiration for the company that makes it, she surprised him with a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s Peace Pops.

They even took a trip to Vermont to visit the Ben and Jerry’s plant, and toured the state tasting ice cream in the different scoop shops.

After they married, Davis moved into the house on Wisconsin Street North that had been Laura’s home for 15 years. Having moved frequently as a child, Davis was happy to put down roots and came to love the community, according to his wife.

Following a November 2012 fundraiser for him, Davis wrote a letter to the Star-Observer relating how proud he was live in and be a part of the North Hudson and Hudson community.

“If I were to believe all the negativity in the news which was on maximum display during the recent elections, there could not possibly be a community left that would show generosity and kindness towards one another,” Davis wrote. “But this is simply not true.

“Every day I receive a smile or see an act of kindness that warms my heart. Every day I gain strength by walking my dog through the safe streets of my neighborhood. Every day my son comes home with new opportunities and lessons learned from school. Every day there are hundreds of real acts of fellowship that together continually strengthen this community.”

Davis greatly loved his son, Ty, now a freshman at Valparaiso University in Indiana, Laura said.

“I think when you only have one kid you kind of focus on creating fun, planning vacations, just spending time with him,” she said.

Davis managed Ty’s Destination Imagination team through his son’s years in middle and high school, and also loved that school community, according to Laura.

Davis was a hydrogeologist with his own environmental consulting business. He also enjoyed his work, which included reviewing plans for the cleanup of contamination sites, Laura said.

The visitation for Davis will be Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson. A celebration of life service will be held at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Afton at 2 p.m. Saturday. There will also be a visitation one hour prior to the service.

An ice cream social will follow the service.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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