Doris Dawn (Didi) Davis died on Jan. 30, 2021, at the age of 70, still angry with her parents that she was not an only child. As she remarked to friends throughout her life (seriously, she told everyone), she had things just the way she wanted them by age 5 but it was all ruined by the arrival of a baby brother. In protest, she tormented him at every opportunity. The arrival of a baby sister four years later went mostly unnoticed. As Didi contended, the damage was already done.

Didi had her one and only brush with the law when she was in high school. She had a traffic accident while driving the sports car of a friend and they switched places before the police arrived. When the deception was uncovered, officers came to question her in the middle of rehearsal for the school play. Her role as Glenda the Good Witch ultimately went to someone else.

Despite the rocky start, Didi grew up to be a fine outstanding citizen. For more than 40 years, she dedicated her life to taking care of others as an emergency room nurse. She had a way about her that put patients at ease. Though she spent most of her career in Texas, she started working in 1971 in Topeka, KS, at St. Francis and Stormont Vail hospitals, where she was part of a small, close-knit group of friends who were all young nurses and EMTs. In 1982, she announced she was moving south for warmer weather. Pleas to stay went unheeded. There was not a dry eye in the house at her going-away party.

Spending time with Didi usually meant you would be laughing a lot. A wonderful teller of stories, she appreciated the ironies of life and could find humor in even the most difficult of circumstances. It was a comfort to those who crossed her path. Over the course of her life, she was blessed with many close friendships, past and present, and cherished them deeply. You know who you are.

Though still holding a grudge about her siblings, Didi was a loving and devoted daughter. She called her parents frequently, especially in the later years, and served as the family’s chief medical advisor for every ailment and affliction. 

On trips home, they would all play cards at the kitchen table late into the night, frequently with a pitcher of strawberry daiquiris. Normally gracious when she would lose the occasional hand, Didi had become quite a poor sport in later years, according to her sister.

Didi loved animals and was a pet parent for various dogs and cats over the course of her life, but she spent the most time with a vibrant red macaw named Gypsy, a male that Didi had been told was a female. The bird’s true gender was only discovered when he began trying to mate with her. 

Chasing her down the hall with his wings fully extended, Gypsy would shoo Didi into the bathroom in the misguided hope that she would sit on the “roost” and produce an egg for him. As encouragement, he would build a nest of toilet paper, cotton balls and random personal grooming products at her feet.

For most of her life, Didi was a voracious reader and was rarely without a book (and a cigarette) in her hand. She drove nothing but Jeep Wranglers from the 1970s forward, replacing one with another over the years. Though she could no longer drive, she could not bear to part with her final Jeep and it remains in her mother’s driveway.

Didi loved to travel and saw much of Europe and the Middle East with her sister. She especially loved seeking out the local specialties – gelato in Italy, calamari in Spain, chocolate in Belgium. She was a foodie and loved to cook but was not a snob, enjoying osso buco in white wine and Sonic’s Frito chili pie in equal measure. Anything covered in cheese, gravy or hot fudge was devoured.

Over the years, Didi and her family made an annual trek to the Isle of Palms in South Carolina in the fall, the loveliest season at the beach. It was her home away from home for more than 20 years. 

Didi had excellent penmanship.

After a series of injuries that required her to use a wheelchair, Didi spent her last few years battling diabetes and renal failure. She passed away peacefully at Village Manor nursing home in her hometown of Abilene, KS. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her family were forced to say a heartbreaking goodbye through the window of her bedroom, her mom and sister standing outside on the lawn.

Didi was a graduate of Abilene (KS) High School in 1968 and the former Asbury Hospital School of Nursing in Salina, KS, in 1971. She studied for two years at Kansas Wesleyan University before proceeding to nursing school.

Didi is survived by her mother Doris of Abilene, KS, brother James and his wife Janet of Augusta, KS, sister Patricia of Washington, DC, aunt Cheryl Pulford of Topeka, KS, nieces Emily and Wendy and nephew Phillip, multiple cousins and other relatives and Gypsy.

She was proceeded in death by her father James Jr., maternal grandparents Mary Woods and Edgar Woods, paternal grandparents James Sr. and Nannie Jack Davis, and beloved aunts Carol Nadine Shelton and Norma “Nonie” McEnroe.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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