Obituary for Thomas Starkey Davisson
August 15, 1940 – September 7, 2020
Thomas Starkey Davisson, 80, died peacefully on September 7, 2020 surrounded by his loving family in the Nevada City home that he and his wife built.
Tom was born on August 15, 1940 in Berkeley, CA to Harry (Gus) Davisson and Catherine Davisson. His family later moved to Walnut Creek where, in the eighth grade, Tom developed a crush on the pretty girl who let him look over her shoulder in their history class. He would go on to marry her seven years later. Tom and Sharon have remained married for fifty-eight years, each other’s best friend and partner in life.
After graduating from high school, Tom joined the Navy and served as a Journalist Third Class in Oahu, Hawaii. Together with his wife, Sharon, Tom attended Chico State University. There he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and completed his course work for a Master’s degree in Social Welfare and Corrections. In 1969, Tom and Sharon made the decision to move “back to the land.” They raised their two children on their Nevada City homestead they created and named Far Out Farms, where they have remained.
Driven by a deep social conscious, Tom filled his life with thoughtful purpose, perpetually championing others. Tom supported Cesar Chavez’s National Farmworkers Association and fought for the improvement of living conditions for residents of the Gridley Farm Labor Camp. He served as an Associate Professor at Chico State and as a counselor in the Educational Opportunity Program, assisting Indigenous youth and migrant workers in obtaining their college degrees. As a Social Service Worker II for Butte County, Tom instigated a food co-op with his clients, an act considered controversial at that time and caused the loss of his post. Tom later mentored incarcerated youth at the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp as part of the Match-Two program, where he saw the potential in each young man he befriended. As Site Supervisor at the Nevada County Landfill, Tom risked his position more than once in support of his staff and to protect the community’s health and the environment. After retiring from the County, Tom served his community by volunteering at the Empire Mine’s blacksmith shop, where he was able to fulfill a boyhood dream and earn a Blacksmith certification. He also volunteered at the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, utilizing his knowledge of welding and wood joinery as part of the Reconstruction Team.
Tom’s interests and skills were as multitudinous as his vocabulary. He was a prize-winning photographer, an avid reader and writer of history, a highly skilled woodworker, welder, heavy equipment operator, carpenter, and blacksmith, a social activist, mentor, meaningful friend, and philosopher. Throughout his life Tom has been equally ethical and irreverent, both attentive and scintillating, a sweetheart and a curmudgeon, humble yet deeply proud of his family. For his family and his remarkable assembly of friends, Tom’s presence in our lives has been profound.
Tom is survived by his beloved wife Sharon Davisson, son Lenny Davisson, daughter Rochelle Elias and son-in-law Paul Elias, grandson Stefan Melko and granddaughter Genevieve Melko, his brother William B. Davisson, and his numerous nieces and nephews and their children.
Services to be announced at a later date. Donations may be made to The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.
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