Refresh this page Camden Catholic Class of 1976 - Gerry Davies

 

 

Gerry Davies

1958 - April 27. 2008

 

 

 

Concord / Rhode Island - It was nearly the match of the century - Former sports editor's column hit a few nerves
Concord Monitor (NH) - Monday, May 17, 2010
Author: Ray Duckler, Monitor columnist

The former Monitor sports editor's wife cried initially, still crushed over the death of her husband last month.

"We're just really sad," Clare Fischer-Davies said by phone from her home in Providence, R.I. "It's a really big loss."

Then the wrestling match came up. The match that pitted her husband, Gerry Davies , against a giant named Big Dan Vinal. The match, staged to raise money for the Concord High cheerleading program, that never happened because city fire inspectors said the school's gym couldn't safely handle the expected crowd.

The match that turned Clare's tears to laughter on Friday.

"For a while he didn't even tell me what was going on," Clare said, "because he knew that I would freak out."

It happened 20 years ago, a series of events through the month of November 1990 that combined humor, anger, passion and community debate into one neat little package.

Davies, who died last month from cancer, had angered the city's cheerleading community with one of his columns, saying cheerleading was not a sport and therefore did not belong on the Monitor's sports pages.

The letters came. The ones from cheerleaders and cheerleading coaches and parents of cheerleaders and parents of cheerleading coaches.

How dare you, they wrote to Davies, through then-Monitor editor Mike Pride. Who do you think you are? Ever see the work these girls put in? Ever see the commitment, the athleticism, the injuries?



Big Dan



But there was more to the story. Much more. In his column, Davies included professional wrestling on the list of sports that did not belong in the sports section.

And that ruffled the ostrich-sized feathers of Big Dan, a high school wrestling champion from Tilton who'd made a career out of scripted, choreographed pro wrestling matches.

Davies was strong, a wrestler himself in school, but Big Dan weighed 350 pounds. His nicknames included Irish Tubby Muffet and The World's Largest Leprechaun. Big Dan wrote Davies a letter, asking him one central question: You talkin' to me?

"I would like to challenge you to a wrestling match in the ring or to a steel cage match. Then you write your story and let us all know if it's just a stunt show."

The line in the sand had been drawn. It was our local version of Bird vs. Magic, the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, the road runner vs. the coyote.

Big Dan, reached Friday in his hometown of Sunapee, vividly recalled the feud of the century. He recalled setting up a best-of-three match, with college rules, a referee and a grudge as the night's theme.

"Sorry, Mr. Davies," Big Dan said, referring to the thought running through his mind at the time. "If the match had happened, he would have gone down in two."

You think so? Big Dan was asked.

"I know so."



Cheerleading champs



Big Dan, a state wrestling champion at Winnisquam Regional High in 1985, always talked a good game, and he was as big as a house, too. But you saw a softness to him that belied his size, once you got past the macho, cartoon-like force field he'd created to market himself to the pro wrestling community.

He trained at Killer Kowalski's gym in Boston and Malden, Mass., the same school that produced Triple H. He headlined local shows in and around Concord, and wrestled preliminary matches at larger venues. He's married, has three kids and sells cars in Claremont.

Davies, meanwhile, left Concord and moved on to a long career in journalism, working at newspapers in Detroit, Virginia and Ohio, before settling in Providence with his wife and two kids five years ago.

He was sometimes acerbic in his columns, enraging politicians while writing for the Roanoke Times in Virginia. And his opinion on cheerleading in the fall of 1990 unleashed a letter-writing campaign rarely seen in this newsroom, before or since.

"Pro wrestling is fake, cheerleading is not a sport, and I don't want either one on the sports page," Davies's column began. "There, I've said it. Let the rocks, arrows and letters to the editor fly."

Concord High's junior varsity football cheerleaders were listening.

"We run at least a mile, do 60 pushups, 60 sit-ups and jumps for at least 20 minutes," they responded. "Recently the varsity cheerleaders held a six-hour practice to reach perfection, which they obviously did since they won the Class L championship."



'Really, really relieved'



With the Class L title secured, the team needed money to compete nationally in Dallas. That's when Big Dan stepped in and challenged Davies, with proceeds earmarked for the cheerleaders and other Concord High sports programs.

Davies accepted, leading to the sale of 2,000 tickets in a gym that fire inspectors said could safely hold 880 people.

The show was canceled, two weeks in advance. Rumor has it that Davies did a somersault of joy off a clothesline in his backyard.

"He was willing to accept the challenge and go through with it," Clare said. "And he was really, really relieved when he didn't have to go through with it."

Big Dan was a good sport throughout the controversy. He went to Davies's going away dinner, when Davies was leaving Concord, and gave him a framed, signed photo from his wrestling days.

"We had a good relationship," Big Dan said. "He was a really nice guy, no doubt in my mind."

Cancer was found in Davies's tonsils and neck lymph nodes in August 2007. Chemotherapy and radiation followed, as did a journey of highs and lows.

"You think a couple of times you have really good remissions," Clare said. "We were very pleased with the scan results we had in November. But by late February or early March, we knew it was back."

Davies died April 27. He leaves behind two children, Mary, who's studying pre-med at Harvard, and Andy, a freshman at the University of San Francisco.

"Please send his wife my condolences," Big Dan said. "Tell her I'm sorry for her loss."

Ray Duckler can be reached at rduckler@cmonitor.com.
Section: Front page
Index Terms: Dan Vinal Gerry Davies
Record Number: eeb794a67790c65951cb4283901fe6dd1d52369c
Copyright, 2010, Concord Monitor

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Longtime Current columnist dies
Roanoke Times, The (VA) - Thursday, April 29, 2010
Author: Tonia Moxley tonia.moxley@roanoke.com 381-1675


Gerry Davies , a former Roanoke Times editorial writer and a columnist for the Current, died Tuesday in a Rhode Island hospital. He was 52.

Davies enraged politicians around the New River Valley with his sometimes acid opinion columns on sewers, elections and other local government dramas. He worked at the Times from 1994 to 2005, until moving with his wife, The Rev. Clare Fischer-Davies, to Providence.

Fischer-Davies is the former rector of Blacksburg's Christ Episcopal Church and currently pastors St. Martin's Church in Providence.

In his career at The Roanoke Times, Davies served as a copy editor, layout editor, business editor, metro editor and finally, editorial writer and New River columnist.

"He taught me a lot about the value of community journalism and the impact it can have on readers," Times Managing Editor Michael Stowe wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

A longtime newsman, Davies also worked at the Toledo Blade and the Detroit Free Press and, until cancer treatment forced him to stop work, was employed as communications director for the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers Association.

Diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2007, Davies later went into remission. The rare and unpredictable cancer returned last year and after another remission, spread aggressively in March.

But he did not "fight" or "battle" the disease, Fischer-Davies said. "The win or lose language, we just didn't like it."

Davies instead lived with the cancer, and was a source of strength for his wife and two children, 20-year-old Andy and 18-year-old Mary, as they dealt with the uncertainty of a chronic illness.

"What I always loved about Gerry is that he was always curious," his wife said. "He was curious and smart and funny, and as brave as they come."

When he died Tuesday evening at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I., he had been planning a trip to his 30th Ohio Wesleyan University class reunion, Fischer-Davies said.

A proud Irish-American, Davies was also known for his love of good whiskey and for afternoon bagpipe practice sessions outside the Times' Christiansburg office that drew customers from the nearby Walmart to listen.

He also loved to work with his hands and after acquiring a used table saw, once nearly cut his thumb in half. He wrote about that experience in a 2004 column titled "I fought the saw, and the saw won."

A member of the Virginia Highlands Pipes and Drums band for a time, his kilted figure could be spotted performing in local parades and festivals. He said he gave up the pipes in 2007, after chemotherapy made it difficult to remember the tunes.

"Did I mention I used to play the bagpipes?" Davies posted on his Facebook page. "My wife arranged an intervention. I'm over that now, although I get flashbacks whenever somebody steps on a cat."

A funeral service and interment is planned next month at Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg. A date has not been set.
Caption: photo - Gerry Davies 1957 - 2010
Edition: New River
Section: Current
Page: NRV9
Record Number: 1004293247779
Copyright (c) 2010 The Roanoke Times

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FORMER TIMES COLUMNIST AGAIN FIGHTING CANCER
Roanoke Times, The (VA) - Friday, July 3, 2009
Author: Tonia Moxley tonia.moxley@roanoke.com, 981-3234

Gerry Davies , a former Roanoke Times editorial writer and a columnist for the Current, is waging his second battle against a rare form of cancer in a Rhode Island hospital.

Davies enraged politicians around the New River Valley with his sometimes acid opinion columns on sewers, elections and other local government dramas.

Now 51, the New Jersey native worked at the Times from 1994 to 2005, until moving with his wife, The Rev. Clare Fischer-Davies, to Providence.

Fischer-Davies is the former rector of Blacksburg's Christ Episcopal Church and currently pastors St. Martin's Church in Providence.

In his career at the Roanoke Times, Davies served as a copy editor, layout editor, business editor, metro editor and finally, editorial writer.

A longtime newsman, he also worked at the Toledo Blade and the Detroit Free Press and is currently employed as communications director for the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers Association.

Davies was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2007, but later went into remission.

The cancer returned recently and has spread to his lungs and tongue. He is undergoing treatment at a Providence hospital, Fischer-Davies said.

"So many people have just remarked on have brave the whole family has been," said Scott Russell, associate rector at Christ Church and a friend of the family.

"A lot of people really have been inspired, hearing their struggles and their determination, their desire ... to share everything with us, hopes and fears," Russell said.

Since 2007, the family has communicated with friends and former parishioners through caringbridge.org, a site similar to a blog that allows medical patients to keep in touch with loved ones.

Follow Davies' condition on the Web: www.caringbridge.org/visit/gerrydavies
Caption: photo Gerry Davies

Edition: NEW RIVER
Section: CURRENT
Page: NRV3
Record Number: 0907030099
Copyright (c) 2009 The Roanoke Times

 

 

Last Revision Date: September 25, 2013