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Winter 2003 | Volume 26, Number 1 | Alumni
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Danna Davis Began Her Long-Lived Campus Connection in First Grade

DANNA WILDER DAVIS ’39 completed first grade through college graduation in 15 consecutive years — 1924 to 1939 — on the Seattle Pacific College campus.

Danna Davis began her long-lived campus connection in the first grade.

Why did SPC include the entire spectrum of grades at the time? “The College was training teachers,” says Davis. “The on campus elementary classes and high school provided a place to do student teaching for certification. At the time, public schools didn’t accept student teachers from private, religious colleges or universities.

“ To the best of my knowledge and research, four others completed 16 years of schooling on campus,” Davis states. “They were Lillian Probsfeldt Smith, Lenna May Burns Pettengill, Miriam Marston Owen and Burton Beegle, all deceased. Dewey Beegle devoted his entire career to teaching math at SPC, spending much of his life at our campus.”

Danna Wilder’s family resided in the neighborhood surrounding Seattle Pacific. Consequently, she lived at home during her school years. As a college student, she was one of the early Falconettes, who wore their distinctive sleeveless sweaters with emblems. She was also active in student gov ernment, serving as secretary of the student body association.

“I worked in the Registrar’s Office under Dr. Philip Ashton,” she recalls. “When enrollment went over 300, the college celebrated by declaring a half-day holiday from classes.”

When asked about social life on campus during the ’30s, Davis grins. “Dates consisted of long walks on Queen Anne Hill and sitting together in Vespers. That’s how Joe Dav is and I spent time together. We couldn’t sit together in classes or chapel because seating was done alphabetically. Even the steps up into Peterson Hall [then the administrative and classroom building] were divided, the boys walking on one side and the girls the other. This changed under President C. Hoyt Watson’s administration.”

Some of those early rules seem archaic today, Davis acknowledges. “The college president’s wife was the dean of women. Because there was a required hem length, all the young women had to take their skirts and dresses to the first lady for measurement,” she says with a chuckle.

After Joe graduated in 1941, romantic sparks flew faster. Preparing to go east to Biblical Seminary of New York, he couldn’t leave Danna behind. They married and headed for the Big Apple. While Joe attended seminary, Danna worked as secretary to George Upton ’25 at the Brooklyn YMCA.

“When we returned to the state of Washington, Joe and I pastored Free Methodist churches in Port Angeles, Auburn and Mount Vernon,” recalls Davis. “From there, President Watson recruited Joe to join the SPC faculty in biblical literature. Watson later encouraged Joe to go to graduate school in theology.”

Back on campus as a faculty wife, Danna Davis was given a small room in the basement of Peterson Hall. There she ran the Alumni Office practically singlehandedly for five years. Once the Alumni Association hired a full-time director, she became an Alumni Board member, serving part of that time as secretary, and also as an advisor to the Falconettes.

Joe and Danna Davis enjoyed many years of involvement with Seattle Pacific. There they met and fell in love. Later, they invested their lives in students, often hosting them for meals in their home. Following a distinguished career, Joe Davis retired from Seattle Pacific University in 1981. He died in 1998.

Danna Davis now lives at the Warm Beach Senior Community near Stanwood, Washington. She smiles and laughs as she recalls her years as a student and as a professor’s wife. She also remembers some little-known facts about the area around Seattle Pacific.

“The lower Queen Anne college vicinity was known as Ross,” she recalls. “Third Avenue was one of the stops of the trolley that came down Nickerson on tracks from the city center to Golden Gardens. It was known as ‘the Ross Stop.’ Across Third Avenue from the present Student Union Building (SUB) was a corner grocery store known as the Ross Marche. Across Bertona from the SUB were a corner drugstore, another grocery store and a popular bakery.”

Davis’ son, Dan Davis ’73, is the father of Laura Davis, currently a student at Seattle Pacific. So the legend lives on. SPU is “home” to the Davis family.


Bob Haslam ’50 is the former editor of Light and Life magazine and former book/acquisition editor for Light and Life Press. He currently works as a freelance writer and editor. Seattle Pacific is part of the Haslam heritage as well: Bob’s mom and dad met at SPC, and his brother, sister, son, daughter, cousins, nieces and nephews all attended his alma mater.

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