July 14, 2013
By T. Scott Boatright
With all the honors and accolades he's received, Ruston Daily Leader executive sports editor O.K. Buddy Davis could have easily hit the big-time press circuit years and years ago.
But big city lights aren't what makes the Ruston High and Louisiana Tech product happy. He'd much more comfortable at home, basking in the Friday Night Lights of Ruston or Grambling, where he's written about sports for the Daily Leader for nearly 50 years.
Davis, Sports Editor of the Daily Leader since 1970, suffered a stroke on July 5 and remains hospitalized at Northern Louisiana Medical Center.
Louisiana Tech University Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Malcolm Butler has long worked with Davis and knows what the 2009 Louisiana Sports Writers Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award honoree means to Lincoln Parish.
"Buddy Davis has written more words about Louisiana Tech athletics than anyone in the history of the university," Butler said. "His name is synonymous with the Bulldogs and the Lady Techsters, and we can never put a price tag on what he has meant to our athletic department. He has been a part of so many of our historical milestones during the 48 years he has worked for the Leader. He has written about Hall of Famers such as Karl Malone, Terry Bradshaw, Leon Barmore, Fred Dean, Teresa Weatherspoon, Willie Roaf and many more.
"He is a walking, talking, breathing history of the past five decades of Louisiana Tech athletics. Buddy is a treasure to Lincoln Parish and our community, and the Louisiana Tech family is going to do whatever we can to help him during this challenging time of his life."
One of the most legendary college football coaches of all time, the late Eddie Robinson of Grambling, was once quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying Buddy was "like a son to me."
While sports is a consuming passion for Davis, his love of everything about Lincoln Parish and everyone living in it runs even deeper.
Following the death of his friend and former Leader co-worker Mary Margaret Storey, Davis wanted to do something in her and joined with Louisiana Tech Journalism Department Chair Reginald Owens to come up with the idea of establishing a lecture series in her name that has brought national, regional and area representatives in the field of journalism to Louisiana Tech to provide their expertise to students pursuing a career in the profession. "Buddy came up with the idea of honoring her, and he was the primary force in raising funds to be able to make it happen," Owens said. "He was determined to do something for his old friend to help remember her."
Davis also established close relationships with university presidents like Grambling's Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, better known as "Prez," as well as longtime Louisiana Tech presidents F. Jay Taylor and Dan Reneau. He's also well thought of by new Tech President Les Guice and his wife Kathy.
"Buddy's coverage of Louisiana Tech athletics and his detailed perspectives of our teams and student-athletes over the years has been nothing short of exceptional," Guice said. "He is a very special part of our community and does an outstanding job of telling the Louisiana Tech story. Kathy and I wish him a full recovery and a quick return to the press box."
Current Grambling State University football coach Doug Williams, a star quarterback for the Tigers in the 1970s before moving on to a stellar NFL career, knows exactly what Davis means not only to GSU but Lincoln Parish as a whole.
"It's really kind of hard to explain what Buddy means to Grambling," Williams said. "Other than (the late Collie J. Nicholson, Grambling's first Sports Information Director), Buddy might know more about Grambling's athletic history than anyone. 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. There are so many Grambling athletes who rose to great heights, largely because of the words Buddy wrote about them.
"I know both Tech and Grambling owe him tremendously. Everyone is concerned now that we know he is down, and we're all hoping and praying that's he's back up soon."
In his nearly 50 years writing about Lincoln Parish sports, there have been countless people -- some athletes, some not -- that Davis has helped throughout north Louisiana. Now Davis needs some help of his own.
Friends remain hopeful that Davis will make a strong recovery, but all realize that process could take some time.
Bank accounts in Davis' name have been established at Community Trust Bank, the Bank of Ruston and First National Bank. To donate, tell a bank teller you'd like to donate to Davis' account. Donations can also be mailed to the Ruston Daily Leader, O.K. Davis Fund, P.O. Box 520, Ruston, La., 71273 or by coming to the Leader office at 212 W. Park Street in Ruston between the hours of 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays.