On Jan. 13, 2014, CCLVI lost one of its pioneer leaders with the death of Coletta Davis of Anaheim, Calif. At age 81, she succumbed to complications of a fall last June which fractured her back. Her first ACB/CCLVI convention was in 1981 in St. Louis. At that time she was president of the Aloha Council of the Blind, the ACB Hawaii affiliate. Over the years, she served as president, first and second vice president, treasurer and director of CCLVI and helped to found the California Council of Citizens with Low Vision.
In the early 1980s when Coletta became active in ACB, the Hawaii quarantine of guide dogs arriving in Hawaii was a hot issue. Coletta led her affiliate in helping to resolve the problem. ACB second vice president Marlaina Lieberg reminisces, "I, too, was sad to hear of Coletta's passing. I remember her first convention; I was GDUI president back then, and we were just starting to work on the guide dog admittance to Hawaii issue. I always found Coletta to be gracious, very accommodating, and willing to work hard and do what was necessary to remediate that situation. Though I have not seen her in many years, I will never forget her. She brought me a gift of some Hawaiian jewelry and some macadamia nuts, and while the nuts are long gone, the jewelry is a treasure."
Having lost her first husband, Coletta moved from Hawaii to California. At the ACB 1985 convention in Las Vegas, she met Gilbert Davis, who became her husband soon thereafter. Gilbert attended conventions with her as long as he lived, where he was her constant companion and helper.
In 1986, Coletta, along with Etta Burge and Joan Black, secured the help of Durward McDaniel to form the California Council of Citizens with Low Vision as an affiliate of CCLVI. From then on, she was always an officer in CCCLV or CCLVI or both. Michael Byington remembers when she was first vice president after having been president. "Coletta was a friend, and my right-hand person during my short presidency of CCLVI. She and Pat Beattie went on the ACB cruise that Ann and I were also on in 2002, and we were assigned to the same dinner table in the formal dining room. Through that experience, I was able to learn what a fun and delightful person Coletta was socially. She will be greatly missed."
And a social person she was! How can we forget her at banquets in her long gowns and her jewels! And as chair of the CCB scholarship committee, she acted as hostess for all the scholarship winners. She very much enjoyed mentoring the young people.
In closing, a couple of farewells:
From David Keith, on Coletta as a local chapter leader: "Coletta and I planned many meetings together. Between San Diego and Orange County, we made sure that business and playtime were taken care of. Rest in peace, sweet lady. May our Lord be at your side always."
And from ACB president Kim Charlson: "I was truly sad to hear of the passing of Coletta Whitcomb Davis. I had the pleasure of working with her over the years on several initiatives, both in Hawaii and California and with CCLVI. She was a true advocate always, and such a pleasure and thoughtful person to work with."
She will truly be missed!