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A legend leaves us

Leader’s O.K. ‘Buddy’ Davis dies at age 72
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
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Leader file photos
            Ruston Daily Leader Executive Sports Editor Emeritus O.K. “Buddy” Davis at his computer keyboard prior to the stroke he suffered in July of 2013.

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Davis (center) with Louisiana Tech University President Les Guice (left) and Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland during Davis’ induction to the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

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 O.K. ‘Buddy’ Davis talking in 2014 with former Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters basketball standout


Update, July 16: Donation link added to bottom

The earthly inkwell has gone dry. The scribe has taken his quill and gone to his heavenly home.

Ruston Daily Leader Executive Sports Editor Emeritus O.K. “Buddy” Davis passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning at the age of 72.

Other than youth sports, Davis never scored a touchdown, made a tackle, swung a bat or pulled down a rebound. He never sprinted out of the blocks, spiked a ball, drove one down the fairway, served up an ace or headed a ball into a goal.

But that didn’t stop him from being a member of multiple sports halls of fame and from receiving awards too numerous to count in a more than 55-year career writing for the Daily Leader.

Even after suffering a stroke in 2013 that left him only with partial use of his right arm and hand, Davis kept on writing, hammering out weekly columns and blogs with only his index finger to type on an I-Pad.

Over the years, Davis wrote about many athletes with ties to Lincoln Parish or Louisiana.

He blazed trails in the 1960s, daring to do what no many other white sports writers were willing to do — cover a Historically Black College/University in Grambling State, even traveling with the Tigers football team to places like New York City and Chicago to cover games.

“I raised this man, this is my son,” legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson told Sports Illustrated about Davis in 1996.

Davis wrote a Sports Illustrated cover story about Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw in 1971.

“There is no question that we as athletes and coaches owe him so much because he made us all look a lot better than we really were,” said former Lady Techsters head basketball coach and fellow Tech Athletics Hall of Famer Leon Barmore about Davis.

“He promoted all of us, and Louisiana Tech and Grambling State owe him a lot. The second thing is, he was the most positive sportswriter I’ve ever read. It was always ‘those loveable Bearcats’ or Bulldogs or Grambling Tigers; I appreciated that.

“And finally — and not many people know this if you didn’t take the Ruston Daily Leader all those years, but this guy covered everything. He might be at an 8-yearold 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.”

Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams, who quarterbacked at Grambling State in the 1970s and later served two stints as head football coach there, said he always remained in touch with Davis over the years.

“As a player and as a coach, I know that if anyone in Grambling athletics every needed some positive words, you could count on Buddy,” Williams said. “There are so many Grambling athletes who rose to great heights, largely because of the words Buddy wrote about them. He was an incredible person. One of a kind.”

Former Ruston High baseball player and head baseball coach George Stone grew up with Davis, and the two were inducted into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame together in 2013, said he feels especially fortunate because of the longtime friendship they shared.

“He is very special to me … always has been,” said Stone, who pitched for the 1969 World Series champions New York Mets. “We went to Ruston High together. We went to Louisiana Tech together. To have someone who was a friend from seventh grade on, and have that person writeaboutyourplaying career - not many people have that kind of close personal friend write about you.”

Davis sometimes liked surprising his friends.

“Even in the big leagues, there were several times I’d look up into the stands, and there Buddy was,” Stone said. “Even at a playoff game at Shea Stadium (in New York). The kind of guy he was made it even more special. You knew whatever was going to happen in a game, he wasn’t going to write anything negative. Everybody trusted him.”

It was that attitude that made Davis everybody’s “Buddy.”

“All across the state, especially in north Louisiana and Lincoln Parish, thousands of people have pieces of Buddy’s stories in their scrapbooks, in their wallets, or displayed with magnets on their refrigerators,” said writer and friend Teddy Allen. “He has admirers like Fort Knox has gold bars.”

Mayor Ronny Walker realizes what Davis meant to the city of Ruston.

“Buddy was an icon to everyone,” Walker said. “There was nobody in the state that had as much history and knowledge of sports, especially of sports personalities in north Louisiana. He grew up in an era where Lincoln Parish was known for so many great athletes and he could tell everyone about them.

“He will be sorely missed not only as a writer but also as a friend of everyone in the state of Louisiana.”

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.