Originally created 05/02/04

Davison honored at funeral



Friends, family and colleagues gathered Saturday morning to say goodbye to a man credited with turning the state's flagship university into an academic powerhouse.

During his funeral, Fred Davison was lauded as a compassionate man who led the University of Georgia for 19 years.

"I often heard Fred say, 'Bringing about educational change is as easy as rearranging a cemetery,' " said J. Ralph Beaird, the dean emeritus of the UGA School of Law, as the congregation laughed light-heartedly.

Dr. Davison, 74, died Wednesday after a long bout with esophageal cancer.

In attendance at Augusta's Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church was current UGA President Michael Adams, sitting among the pews where there was hardly any empty space.

"He cared deeply about friends," said the Rev. John H. Roark, the pastor at Buford Presbyterian Church in Buford, Ga., who met Dr. Davison in 1968 while he was the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ga.

The Rev. Roark recalled fond memories of keeping in touch via telephone, even after he had left Athens. He also recalled another memory - one more recent, as the Life Sciences Building at UGA was renamed in Dr. Davison's honor April 16.

As his wife, children and grandchildren were gathered, the Rev. Roark said "the circle was complete, as if he held on for that last occasion."

Dr. Davison served as UGA president from 1967 until 1986. He came to Augusta as president and CEO of the National Science Center Foundation, where he worked on one of the first mathematics education computer programs, Learning Logic.

"He enriched Athens, this community and our state," Mr. Beaird said.

After the funeral, Dr. Davison was buried at Oconee Hills Cemetery in Athens.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.