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John Davis wore many hats in Evergreen.

The retired United Airlines pilot was part of the heart and soul of Evergreen Players and an icon on the Evergreen arts community. He was a great family man, doting on his wife, Kathleen, children and grandchildren, and had special relationships with his three brothers.

“There are many from his different families here,” Scott Ogle, a board member with Evergreen Players, told the crowd that packed El Rancho Restaurant for John’s celebration of life on Jan. 24. John died on Jan. 15 after a brief bout of heart failure. He was 79.

Friends, colleagues and family members called John enthusiastic, approachable and fun-loving. He was enamored with all things tech, was meticulously organized and enjoyed the little things in life. He was an avid skier, diver and hiker, and loved taking family trips.

“What I remember most is the wonder he had about things,” Ogle said, noting that John even could make a taped-out square on the floor fascinating.

Evergreen Players

Newlyweds John and Kathleen moved to Evergreen in 1966 and soon after, they saw an announcement in the Canyon Courier of an Evergreen Players meeting. They attended, and that was the beginning of their 56-year story with the theater group.

John, who had worked on lighting in college productions, remembers making the first stage lights out of coffee cans and building the first stage at The Little Log Theatre, where Evergreen Players performed for about 30 years.  

At Evergreen Players, John had every job imaginable from acting and technical director to several positions on the Players’ board of directors. The stories at the celebration of life attested to his love for community theater and its contributions to make Evergreen and surrounding communities better.

John and Kathleen did just about everything related to the Evergreen Players, most notably, building a path to sustainability. For years, each devoted about 40 hours per week to community theater.

Their vision guided the organization through many ups and downs. They worked tirelessly to create leadership roles and divide responsibilities, so the organization’s success didn’t rely on an individual.

During the COVID pandemic, John worked tirelessly researching and applying for grants to fund the organization when live performances were prohibited.

John and Kathleen acted together in shows over the years including Neil Simon’s “Mary, Mary,” and most recently, John played Carlyle the Genie in the production of “Human Beings and Other Acts of Comedy” in January 2022, which several people referred to as one of his favorite roles.

John volunteered on many boards and committees over the years, including the board of directors for the Colorado Community Theater Coalition, the Evergreen Arts Council, and several committees with the American Association of Community Theaters.

In 2018, the AACT named John a Fellow. In 2001, John was named Arts Person of the Year by the Evergreen Area Council for the Arts, now known as Center for the Arts Evergreen. He was also chairman of the Buchanan Park Building Committee.

Brad Moore, a member of the Colorado Community Theater Coalition board of directors, said John was the leader the organization needed by shifting the focus and energy of that organization.

“John was a genius in his love and his care and his willingness to take a deep breath,” Moore said. “He would say, ‘We will make this work. We don’t have to make a big deal out of it. He taught me to just take a breath and go on.”

Love of tech

John loved spending hours in electronic stores, including time there with his grandchildren.

Grandson Gabriel Chow spoke of a trip he took with John to the Boeing Airplane factory in Everett, Washington, and Gabriel had two tour guides: the official one and his grandfather.

“While walking to the tour center, Papa’s excitement eclipsed the size of that building,” Gabriel said. “It’s one of the best trips I ever took.”

John was a union officer and became part of United Airlines’ management team culminating as a fleet captain of the 747-400s. After retiring from flying, he worked for Boeing as an instructor.

Daughter Anna Chow explained that John would get so excited about something everyone would take for granted, and he loved experiencing life and sharing it with others.

A nice guy

Chow said John was her dive buddy, and she learned four tenets about life from him. First, always have a plan, whether it’s diving, flying or in life. Second, always make sure the equipment is safe. Third, keep an eye on each other, and finally, when in doubt, just breathe.

Family members talked about all the people John touched throughout his life, making a difference to all of them, noting that his energy and spirit will always be here.

Jimy Murphy of Evergreen said John was so nice that he worried about John.

“I never met a nice, kind, interesting man like John, and I watched carefully to see if he could navigate this world. Not only could he navigate it, but he probably was the happiest, most successful human being that I knew. I’m so proud to have his friendship.”

Chow said this of her dad, paraphrasing “Mary Poppins”: “A spoonful of my dad made everything a little lighter.”

Just Around Here and Evergreen Players contributed to this story.