OBITUARY

William "Bud" Davis

February 15, 1929September 24, 2021

William Eugene (Bud) Davis, born February 15, 1929 in Wamego, Kansas, died September 24, 2021 at the age of 92. Bud grew up in rural Kansas and moved to Loveland, Colorado with his family when he was 16. Upon arriving in Colorado in 1944, he met, Pollyanne Peterson, and promptly informed her she would be his future wife. Bud graduated from Loveland High School in the spring of 1947 and followed Polly to the University of Colorado. Seven years after arriving in Colorado, Bud and Polly were married on March 17, 1951. As an undergraduate, Bud was a top scholar, president of the student body, and a varsity football player. In May 1951, Bud earned a BS in Physical Education and English and joined the US Marine Corps in 1951. As an enlisted man during boot camp, Bud earned an opportunity to attend Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant, he was appointed a platoon leader and served in Korea and Japan from 1952-1954.

Bud began his career in Education in 1954 as an English teacher and track coach at Loveland High School. His track team won the Northern Colorado Championship and State Championship in 1955. In the fall of 1955, Bud and Polly moved to Rapid City, South Dakota where he taught English and coached football. On the gridiron, his Rapid City High School teams finished second in South Dakota in 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1958. Bud and Polly returned to Greeley, Colorado in 1959 where he taught English, pursued his Master’s Degree in Administration, and coached football. He was named High School Coach of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News after leading his team to a Colorado State Championship. Bud returned to the University of Colorado in 1960 to serve as Alumni Director and begin his doctoral studies in Higher Education. Bud was hired as CU’s head football coach in March of 1962. Following the season, he was appointed as Dean of Men and resigned as head football coach. In the spring of 1963, after earning his Doctorate in Higher Education, he was hired as Executive Assistant to the President for Student Affairs at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Two years later, at the age of 36, Bud was named President of Idaho State University in Pocatello, where he served 10 years. Taking leave from his academic post in 1972, he ran for the US Senate and won the Democratic nomination. He lost in a close general election to Republican James McClure. Bud left Idaho State University to be President of the University of New Mexico from 1975-1982 and, subsequently, Chancellor of the Oregon State System of Higher Education from 1982-1988. In both these roles, he achieved significant increases in student enrollment and state support. In 1989, he was appointed Chancellor of Louisiana State University where he served until 1997. During this time, LSU developed a unique partnership with crosstown Southern University and achieved an agreement that led to the end of a more than 30-year court-ordered consent decree. Overall, LSU made major strides in increasing inclusivity and diversity during his tenure as chancellor. Upon his resignation, Bud served on the faculty in the Higher Education program until his retirement from LSU in 1999. Bud’s 35 years of service as a leader, of a state university or state system at four different institutions, is unique in the history of American higher education. Following retirement, Bud and Polly returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He continued to serve his profession as a member of the Board of Regents for Western New Mexico University until 2008.

Bud was a prolific writer, and during his career produced nearly 200 published manuscripts, short stories, magazine articles, scholarly articles, and biographies. He also published a total of nine books including a two-volume definitive history of the University of Colorado, Glory Colorado (Volume One): A History of the University of Colorado, 1858-1963, and Glory Colorado (Volume Two): A History of the University of Colorado, 1963-2000. He also published Miracle on the Mesa: A History of the University of New Mexico. Bud had a wonderful sense of humor and often told and laughed at his own experiences with deep humility. His humor, his commitment to service to others, and his joy and adventures as a father are represented beautifully in his collection of shorts stories published in his book Nobody Calls Me Doctor. He enjoyed a life-time hobby of creating and painting historically accurate (uniforms and equipment) miniature lead toy soldiers. Over fifty years, he produced thousands of pieces he willingly shared with others. Today, these soldiers are held in collections at the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Republic of West Florida Museum in Jackson, Louisiana, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in Durango, Colorado, and the Shiloh Tours and Museum in Shiloh, Tennessee.

Throughout his career, Bud received numerous honors but was most proud of receiving the George Norlin Award for Distinguished Service at the University of Colorado (1975), the University of Colorado Alumnus of the Century Award (1977), the CU Athletic Hall of Honor Award (1980), an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from the University of Colorado (2008), and the renaming, renovation, and rededication (2020) of the “Spud Bowl,” a track and field and soccer facility at Idaho State University, to Davis Field.

Bud is preceded in death by his wife, Pollyanne Peterson Davis, his father, Eugene Davis, his mother, Willa Davis, his daughter, Bonnie Davis, and his daughter-in-law, Melanie Crane Davis. Bud is survived by his brother Jim Davis and his wife Martha Davis; his daughters Deborah Davis Walker, Rebecca Davis Toevs and her husband Thomas Toevs, and Brooke Davis; his son Douglas Davis and his wife Jill Cabrera Davis, and his son-in-law Arthur Walker; his granddaughters, Sierra Davis, Whitney Loveland and her husband Ryan Loveland, Courtney Woodard and her husband Weston Woodard, and Niquel Toevs; and his four great grandchildren, Madison Loveland, Preston Loveland, William (Liam) Loveland, and William Davis Woodard.

A memorial service will be held for Bud and Polly at 10:00 am (Mountain Time), Friday, October 15, at Central United Methodist Church, 201 University Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Personal messages may be sent to the family at budandpollymessage@yahoo.com. Bud and Polly leave behind a legacy of compassion, community involvement, and service to others, as a couple who dedicated themselves to educational institutions serving the needs of students in seven states over 60 years. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift in Bud and Polly’s memory to the UNM Presidential Scholarship Program. Memorial contributions can be mailed to the UNM Foundation, Presidential Scholarship, Two Woodward Center, 700 Lomas Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102 or made online at https://www.unmfund.org/fund/memorials-tributes/. (Please include a note stating who your gift memorializes.)

Services

  • Celebration of Life

    Friday, October 15, 2021

Memories

William "Bud" Davis

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ROSANNE MILLER CELAYA

October 14, 2021

Debbie, Becky, Doug, and Brooke, Your parents were wonderful people whom I respected more than words can express. I have always been so grateful for the wonderful year I shared your lives. It was an experience that enriched my life and prepared me for motherhood and so much more. You kids became like a second family to me. When I did not receive a Christmas card a few years back from Polly and Bud, I feared something had happened to one of them. I was also sad to see that Bonnie passed away. I would really like to stay in touch with one of you. My love to all of you.
Rosanne Miller (Taylor) Celaya

Laurie & Johnny Adams

October 14, 2021

Bud and Polly Davis had a profound impact of our lives as college students and as a young married couple. So warm, so generous and so willing to listen and share wisdom, Johnny and I felt honored to call them mentors and friends while they were in residence at LSU. Chancellor Davis understood universities inside and out - the faculty, the student experience, and the role our higher education institutions should fill in our nation. Spending time with student leaders clearly energized and encouraged both Bud and Polly. I count every afternoon and evening at their home as a blessing. When I heard Polly had passed, I had a hard time imagining Bud here on Earth without her. It is a comfort to know they are reunited in eternity. My sincere condolences to the entire Davis family.

John Bateman

October 9, 2021

We knew Bud when he was Chancellor at LSU in Baton Rouge. We had the common link of being Marines, but beyond that he and Polly were two of the nicest people one could meet. He did a lot for
LSU and we valued his friendship. May God Bless his Soul.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY