Sundays in my city: Donna was our head cheerleader

I am a firm believer in “encouragers.” They make our world softer and kinder and lovelier.

Encouragers are people who always are finding someone else to support and cheer on to success. They are a breath of fresh air in a polluted “it’s-all-about-me” world.

Competition is everywhere; trust me, I work in one of the most competitive industries on the planet, so I know it all too well.

Sometimes it’s tough to find the encouragers because everyone is so focused on their own victories. But those bright lights are out there, shining sweetly, waiting on a chance to uplift someone else.

Donna Alburty Davis was one of the beacons that lit the paths of my hometown. The lights flickered last week when word came of her sudden death at a very youthful 69 years old.

Donna had a face everyone in Cleveland knew. She graduated with the Class of 1964 and was friends with my grandma and great aunts and uncles and everyone else’s grandmas and aunts and uncles. She was the glue for her girlfriends. She was a doting mother, sister and aunt. She was a widow, but she was living life to its absolute fullest — more than some 30 year olds do.

Donna was the woman every other woman admired for her beauty and kindness, and she was the woman every man adored for her class and charm. She was a lady through and through.

No one wanted to compete with Donna. You only wanted to be her friend, to have her on your side to root you on in life. She was a friend to women of all ages. She supported others and their journeys and she gave them a boost.

When I bent her ear a couple of times about ideas I had, she encouraged me to see them to reality. And she smiled her big, beautiful smile – the one showing her words were genuine and that she wanted nothing more than for another person to flourish. I know there are countless others who have similar experiences with Donna.

When my stories appeared in the newspaper, she’d let me know she read them and she would compliment them – even if it was a story on a negative subject we probably both rather wished would fade away.

As a city councilor in Cleveland for 12 years, Donna was one of those people who rose to the occasion because she sincerely cared about her hometown. She didn’t want attention or small-town fame, but she knew she had a voice that would be beneficial to the civic process. She was committed to service for the right reasons, all the way until her last moments.

A more loving ambassador for Cleveland, you’d be hard-pressed to find.

She roamed the humble streets in our little river town since she was a girl. Donna Davis saw our fair city through some of its best times and worst times and always wanted more for it. She remembered its glory days and worked hard to extend it into better days.

She never stopped believing that Cleveland is special and its people are exceptional.

She was our biggest cheerLEADER — always rooting for the home team.

So what does the rest of the squad do when the head cheerleader is gone?

Her smile and laughter will be missed. Her constant support will be missed.

But, you see, Donna was an encourager. Encouragers want others to succeed more than they do, even to the end.

Her light has dimmed, but in her sweet way, I think she’s telling all of us one last time that there’s plenty of room for a lot more folks to shine.



The life of Donna Alburty Davis will be celebrated at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 4, 2016 at the Terlton First Baptist Church. Read more about her life and legacy by clicking here.








3 thoughts on “Sundays in my city: Donna was our head cheerleader

  1. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to our loved one Donna. You must have known her well. She will be missed by all of us.

    • It was an honor to write about Donna, Cathy. I didn’t know her well, but that was part of her charm and authenticity. You didn’t have to know her well to know her heart. She wore it on her sleeve. My deepest sympathies are with you all.

  2. C-Town will miss Donna for a long, long time. You caught her spirit exactly. She was truly a light in our Small Town World.
    I hope our city council will consider naming our new park after her. It seems only fitting.

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