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Leader's Buddy Davis dies at 72

Monday, July 15, 2019
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Leader file photo

Buddy Davis is pictured with the "The Buddy Davis Story" exhibit that was part of the Smithsonian's "Hometown Heroes" exhibit at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center in 2016.

Update, July 16: donation link corrected
Even legends pass away.

Early Saturday morning in the “Lambert Suite” of Princeton Place Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Orville Kince “O.K.” Davis – affectionately known to his friends, and they were many, as Buddy – passed away in his sleep at age 72.

For more than five decades, the Ruston High School and Louisiana Tech University graduate covered Lincoln Parish and its people like a superstar. His love for athletics and for Lincoln Parish started at an early age when his dad started taking him to Tech football games. It only grew. His pen and its ability to spin a tale that drew people in were legendary.

Just like Buddy.

“A forever loyal Bulldog, Buddy Davis was legendary for his ability to turn a phrase and bring readers closer to the action on the field or court,” said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. “Buddy’s impact goes far beyond the newsroom, however.

“His daily stories – covering Lincoln Parish sports for more than five decades – were instrumental in bringing national attention to so many of our athletes, coaches, programs, and his beloved alma mater. We’ll miss seeing him in the press box, but I know he’s happy to see so many of his idols who’ve gone on ahead to prep the field for him.”

With his stories, Buddy helped to put a city, a parish, two Universities, and numerous high schools on the map. He was often a one-man workforce for the sports section of the Ruston Daily Leader; his journalism career began as a Ruston High Bearcat student when he submitted stories to the paper, and it didn’t end until his death around 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

No one will ever know the exact numbers of stories or words the man wrote about Lincoln Parish, a parish with more than its fair share of hall of fame athletes. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Probably, more like hundreds of thousands. And every one of them was written with the same passion and love for the men and women of this area of our state. Buddy’s words are what helped make so many people in our area legends.

Just like Buddy.

“Buddy Davis helped put Louisiana Tech Athletics on the map,” said LA Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland. “For more than five decades, he told the stories of thousands upon thousands of athletes, not only at Tech but also in Lincoln Parish. He covered every national championship team at Louisiana Tech and the vast majority of those enshrined in the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.

“In the day and age before social media, Buddy told the nation about Ruston and all of our Bulldog and Lady Techster stars. No one has ever written more words about our school, and I feel confident no one ever will again. Louisiana Tech and Ruston are so fortunate to have had a person of Buddy’s talents and character tell the world our stories. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.”

However, it was Buddy himself – even more than his words – that people will remember. The man. The friend. The guy who always had a one-liner. A lover of the New York Yankees. A fan of the Three Stooges. Although he may have only stood just over 5-feet-and-a-few-inches tall, he was a giant to so many of us.

A legend.

“Buddy was just the best,” said LA Tech Hall of Famer and former longtime Tech SID Keith Prince. “We were so lucky in this community to have Buddy Davis. It is remarkable what he did to cover Louisiana Tech, Ruston High, Grambling State … everything in Ruston. It was amazing how prolific he was and how much he enjoyed it. How much he loved our people.

“Everyone he covered considered him a friend, and that is because of Buddy’s personality. He was fantastic. I am so sorry to hear this. He put up an unbelievable battle these last few years while remaining so positive. We love Buddy Davis, and we are so lucky he came our way.”

“This guy covered everything,” said LA Tech Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore. “He might be at an 8-year-old Little League game, and then he’d head to spring football practice. His brush was so broad; he reached so many people, and they loved him for it. And I did too.”

Davis was enshrined into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013, just months after suffering a stroke at his home in Ruston. For the past six years, he resided at Princeton Place in the aptly named Lambert Suite – Room 58, the same number worn by former Pittsburgh Steeler great Jack Lambert.

The parade of guests that visited Buddy during these last six years were like a Who’s Who of Lincoln Parish greats. Men and women who Buddy scribed about. And just as he wove tales of their careers and accomplishments, he wove his way into their hearts and lives. This ability was almost legendary.

Just like Buddy.

“I’m so glad I got to see him recently,” said former LA Tech track and field star and friend John Allen. “He was the ‘real’ Buddy that day, just regular Buddy. When he wrote, he never put anyone down. What he did was aim to make things better for everybody, to build people up and encourage them. I miss him already.”

Buddy was named Mr. Louisiana Basketball by the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches in 2010. He won the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and was also named Louisiana Tech's College of Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year (Class of 1969) in 2013.

“We lost a legend today,” said Louisiana Tech Lady Techster basketball coach Brooke Stoehr. “Buddy Davis was a true treasure.”

Yes we did. And yes he was.

In honor of Buddy, Louisiana Tech has set up the O.K. “Buddy” Davis Endowed Scholarship that will benefit the same student-athletes that our friend promoted for so many years.

Donations may be made by check payable to “Louisiana Tech University Foundation” or by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover). Donations should be mailed to P.O. Box 1190, Ruston, La. 71273-1190. Online donations can be made here.