Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Advancing Albion, the College's twice-yearly donor publication. It has been updated slightly here. Marie Ames, director of development, contributed to this story.
As a young boy growing up in Albion, Bud Davis remembers playing baseball on the Quad and running on the College's track.
"We even used to sneak into Kresge Gym to play basketball," he says with a grin.
Those early days on campus have since led to a lifelong engagement with Albion College for Bud and his wife, Olivia. Together they have been among the College's most faithful supporters, giving their time—Bud served as a trustee from 1973 to 1982—and financial contributions to numerous campus projects over the years.
And those College connections have continued with their two grandsons, Jon, '14, and Hart Davis, '16.
Bud and Olivia have provided a generous gift for Phase II of Albion's campaign to improve its outdoor athletic facilities. In honor of their gift, the area encompassing the new and upgraded playing fields will be named the Davis Athletic Complex.
Bud says he was persuaded of the need for these improvements when he saw how other colleges in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association were investing in new and enhanced sports facilities, and he believes that Albion's plan to add a soccer/lacrosse complex, create Champions Stadium at Frank Joranko Field, and upgrade Dempsey Softball Field will enable the College to be more competitive in recruiting top student-athletes.
The Davises explain that their giving through the years has stemmed from their desire to see Albion College succeed and provide an exceptional education for current and future students.
"We hope Albion will continue to be one of the outstanding liberal arts colleges in the country," Bud says, "and that it will have the financial ability to support an exceptional leadership team, faculty, and staff and offer the financial aid needed to attract top students."
Their involvement is all the more remarkable because neither Bud nor Olivia is an Albion College graduate--their loyalty has grown simply because they value the partnership between the College and their home community, and they want that relationship to remain strong long into the future.
"The College has contributed so much to the town," Olivia says, noting her appreciation for the many cultural events they have attended on campus.
The Davises have played vital roles in the community of Albion as well. After serving in World War II—Bud as an Army Air Force navigator for a B-17 bomber crew in Europe and Olivia as a member of the Navy WAVES in Gulfport, Mississippi—they returned to their hometown where they were married and began their family.
Bud entered the banking field but soon moved on to a career in industry that would be the focus of most of his professional life. He was vice president and treasurer of Albion Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial casters and wheels, until retiring in 1970. Subsequently, he was president and treasurer of Sheridan Industries, a supplier to the caster and wheel industry. He served on the Board of Directors of Decker Manufacturing Co. and City Bank and Trust. Self-taught as a financial investor, he successfully built the family's portfolio over the years. Olivia was a community volunteer, involved in Scouting and school organizations when their two sons, Kent and Mark, were young, and in the local Hospital Service League.
One of Bud's earliest childhood memories is a visit to the downtown Bohm Theatre on Christmas Day 1929 with his parents and aunt and uncle, John, '22, and Lillian Howarth Osborn, '25. Lillian, a talented organist, had been invited to try out the new organ there prior to the Bohm's grand opening later that day. That memory was part of the inspiration for a major gift from Bud and Olivia in support of the theatre's recent restoration to its 1920s grandeur. In appreciation the venue has been named The Davis Center for Film and Performing Arts.
"The restoration of the theatre and similar revitalization plans," Bud reflects, "might be the catalysts for other businesses to locate downtown and make this a more attractive community—and bring more exposure to the College."
The Davises are encouraged by the spirit of optimism they see today both on campus and in the community.
"The arrival of President Mauri Ditzler has given us a lot of hope," Bud says. "His leadership and the cooperation of the city will strengthen both entities. Both will be well rewarded by his activities."