Josephine “Joey” Davidson

Joey DavidsonJosephine “Joey” Davidson died in her sleep the morning of December 3, 2006, after spending the previous day with four generations of family members.

Joey was born in Brooklyn, New York, February 13, 1923, the fifth of six siblings, and moved to Santa Rosa, California, as an infant. She graduated from Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa and then from the University of California at Berkeley. At Cal she met her roommate’s brother, Peter, whom she married in 1947.

An educator, author and columnist, Joey lived in Illinois, the Middle East, New York, California and Texas before moving to Bellingham in 1988. Joey, who contracted polio in 1954, spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. When she wished to return to the classroom in the 1960s, she discovered that it was illegal in the state of California for people with disabilities to teach. She persisted and taught for 23 years in Catholic schools in California and Texas.

After she retired, Joey wrote a bestselling middle-school resource book, Teaching and Dramatizing Greek Myths. She eventually founded her own publishing company, and wrote three more school texts, most notably The Middle School Debater. She worked with friends at her church to compile and publish a large print hymnal and co-authored with Phyllis Shelley Jesus and People with Disabilities.

Joey wrote a column for The Bellingham Herald for a number of years. In her column, she continued to educate and advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. She also served on city and county advisory panels and commissions and helped with the design of public parks and recreational facilities to ensure that they are accessible, comfortable and usable for people with disabilities.

Survivors are her husband of 59 years, Peter D. Davidson; son James, his spouse Tamara, their children Jesse, Sarah and Tony; and daughter, Mary H. Mele, her spouse Nicholas, their children Nicco and his spouse Morra, and Peter, his spouse Barbara and their daughter Sophia Josephine. Her brother John McPhee of Moraga, California; her sister, Virginia Shea of Santa Rosa, California; and sister-in-law Helene Jacoby of Boise, Idaho, and their families, also mourn for Joey.

There will be a vigil for Joey at Moles Funeral Home on Lakeway Avenue in Bellingham, Washington State from 7 pm Wednesday, December 6; her funeral will be at Assumption Catholic Church at 10:30 am Thursday, December 7.

Joey expressed a wish that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Interfaith Coalition, 2401 Cornwall Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225.

This obituary appeared in the Bellingham Herald, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and on the Moles Family Funeral Home website.

4 Responses to “Josephine “Joey” Davidson”

  1. Anne Says:

    I can’t imagine becoming wheelchair-bound at the age of 31. And then to have it shape so much of your grandmother’s interests and activity! That’s an amazing mid-life shift.

    I wonder which Greek myths were her favorites? Or if there were any in particular that she impressed upon you? Or if there were myths that worked particularly well for people with disabilities?

    There is a great poet, both Christian and disabled, whose collected poems I bought a few years ago. She taught at the University of North Texas and there now is a poetry prize for writers with disabilities named in her honor. Her name is Vassar Miller, and her mention seems fitting in this comment space….

    Here’s a Sojourners article about her….

    Take care, Mr. Mele! Have a blessed week in Bellingham.

  2. Anne Says:

    One more comment — I surfed from the Miller article to an article by James Loney in the current Sojourners — James Loney, one of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages from Iraq last year. He closes his article in this way:

    “This, I think, is what I’ve learned, though I make no claims about successfully living it: We are born to be born, again and again, every day in every moment in every decision, big or small, regardless of where we are or what is happening to us.

    We were given birth to give birth, and every body is holy. The hardest birth of all is dying. The labor pains will seize us; we have no control over the time or place. Our job is to allow God to breathe us through, together, in the mystery of incarnation.”

  3. As If It Matters » Blog Archive » Note from Vivian Says:

    […] My grandmother, Josephine Davidson, passed away a week ago – her obituary is here, and a photo slideshow is here. Her good friend Vivian Chapman was 92 and lived down the street; Vivian asked me to publish her rememberances on my blog: Joey was a profound influence in my adjusting to life in the Northwest, as well as widowhood one year after moving here. She invited me to a prayer and study group which met weekly at her home. She also included me in many family affairs. I was to learn that being wheelchair bound didn’t hinder this vivacious woman from accomplishing whatever she set out to do. In one of our special bonding of friendship periods she told me how the general public dismissed the abilities of one in a wheel chair. Well – they had no idea of the bundle of energy they were challenging. […]

  4. As If It Matters » Blog Archive » I Remember. Says:

    […] Obituary […]

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