At the Disabilities Board of Charleston County, it was not unusual to hear Deborah Davis singing an uplifting gospel song with her special needs clients.
Age: 52Community: CharlestonAffiliation: Joshua Baptist Church, Burke High School Band Boosters and Disabilities Board of Charleston County.People will remember her: As an exceptionally caring person.Survivors include: Son Eric Davis; daughter, Erin Davis; sisters, Gwendolyn Frazier, Sharon Frazier and Idell Sass.
The song usually was one of their favorites. Davis would let her consumers, as they are called, start the song. Then, she'd join in.
“She sang so many songs,” says Jennifer Fludd, a program manager who worked with Davis for eight years. Davis, who was 52 and died March 30, was a vocational trainer for adults with special needs.
Though Davis sang many gospel songs, one of her personal favorites best exemplifies her life: “I'm A Soldier in the Army of the Lord,” Fludd says. The song brings to mind the way Davis addressed the needs of those she encountered at work, both consumers and staff.
Davis would voluntarily pick up a consumer on the weekends to give family members some respite time, Fludd says. She would give them clothes from her own closet if she thought they would fit them better than her.
On the job, Davis was known for giving inspirational messages to help co-workers get through rough patches in their lives, Fludd says. “She always let you know that whatever burden you were bearing would pass, and that God has something special for you.”
A fervent churchgoer, Davis served on the usher board at Joshua Baptist Church, says Gwendolyn Frazier, her sister.
“We joined Joshua in 2008,” Frazier says. “Before that, she was junior usher at Jerusalem Baptist Church. Back then, she was a member of Ushers Council No. 1, 20-something churches that meet weekly to raise money for scholarships and other things.”
Davis looked forward to seeing her church family each week. “She would always tell people that she liked to 'Get her praise on,' ” Frazier says. And church is one of the places people will miss her trademark smile, says Frazier. People would see that smile just before Davis addressed them as “Sugar.” She addressed everyone that way.
“Debbie was just a good-hearted person,” Frazier says. “She loved working with special needs people. For me, work is about taking care of yourself financially. So I would try to pull her out of it (the field). But for her, it was about the job. She'd say 'I'm happy.' ”
It takes a special person to do the job she held, Frazier says. “My sister was in the emergency room and one of her consumers was in another emergency room bay. She was getting up and going to see about her. Even when one of her consumers died, my sister would go and be with the family to show her support.”
Davis, a single mother, also was very involved in her twins' lives, Frazier says. They play in the Burke High School Band, and she was a booster. Erin plays saxophone, and Eric is a percussionist, Frazier says. She traveled with the band to New Orleans. The crowd at games expected her.
“They waited on her to come when they had football games to get the school spirit started,” Fludd says. “She got the crowd rolling. She was a pep rally within herself.”
Band Director Linard McCloud says Burke's band family will miss her.
“She was a fun-loving person,” McCloud says. “I am going to miss seeing her. The most disappointing thing for us is that graduation will be sad for the kids (Erin and Eric, both seniors). I know she was looking forward to being there. I know we all will be sad.
“... She was a terrific mom and a terrific booster.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.