In Remembrance of Brad Davis
“He was a great teacher and I was just talking about his art history class this past weekend. I said because of that class I can recognize many artists. I think I remember this correctly, but Brad and Beth would take separate flights when traveling just in case something happened. They wanted to make sure at least one parent would be there to care for their kids. It shows the kind of thoughtfulness, care and dedication that they had for their family. They both gave so much to all of us and I’ll forever be grateful for their love, kindness and leadership. He helped guide me through some times in my life where I was not making the best choices. I was very thankful for his help.” Kim Allen ’90
“Brad was a special kind of teacher; could easily go through the Louvre catalog of Flemish painters without hesitation, and just as easily chase us with a hockey stick at bed check, without hesitation. A real mentor, who had enough AES rodeo’s under his belt to not only not sit with our class on the flight to Paris, but then deny he even knew us on the plane, when things got spirited with the Steward’s.” Lucas Carter ’00
“Rest in Power Brad. He was probably the best teacher I ever had. As I have traveled the world going to museums, it’s his voice that tells me about each painting and work of art. I learned more from Brad than I can explain and he enriched my entire life.” Ali Marshall ’87, P ’24
“No one could rock a drab sweater like Brad Davis. From his sweater collection my mind expanded into the deep dark realms of the human condition, artistic practices and literary ingenuity. Thank you Brad Davis for choosing that sweater.” Rossa Cole ’88
“Brad was a fantastic teacher. I learned so much from him in his history classes and often simply out taking walks. I played French Horn, and so did he (way better than I!) and so we were in the orchestra together. He had a great sense of humor . Sending all in his family much heart and energy at this challenging time.” Jennie Kristel ’80, P ’08
“Brad pushed me in ways that no other professor before or after him had. He was loving and caring and saw a kid who needed someone to listen and he was that. He was always telling me I could do better than what I did. That I was smarter than that. I will never forget watching ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ every year and his running commentary the whole film. My heart hurts and I will forever miss the man who was my father when I was away from home.” Alex Weinhold ’09
“I had many terrific Buxton teachers back in the ’70s. Brad Davis was one of the best, and I have fond memories of him.
I remember sitting beside him in the orchestra, as the lowly second bassoonist, watching his cheeks balloon like Dizzy Gillespie’s as he skillfully played his French horn.
I remember him saying, in his aphoristic way, ‘You will all remember just ten words from high school.’ Those are the ten words I remember.
I remember that upon reading one of my papers he gave me his version of Mark Twain’s famous advice: ‘When you catch an adjective, kill it.’ After almost forty years as a professional writer, I’m still working on that.
Brad was perhaps the first teacher to recognize my wonder with words, and he amiably acquiesced to our playing a vocabulary-challenge game. I would scour the dictionary for words he probably didn’t know, then compose a highly insulting sentence with them that I hoped he couldn’t decipher. This challenge motivated a sullen teenager to drag himself to Brad’s 8:00 a.m. class. I usually won, but I think he sometimes let me.
In his anthropology class Brad had us read a classic called The Kapauku Papuans by Leopold Pospisil. The dimwit gallery thought that was hilarious, but Brad would brook no snickering. His fascinating AmHist class taught us to think critically and ask hard questions, and it influenced my decision to major in American Studies at Yale.
Brad was also a great hockey coach who saw that the solution to my deficiencies as a puck-handler was to let me release my killer instinct as a hard-hitting defenseman. That was fun, and I have the scars to prove it.
Once, on an all-school trip to Washington, D.C., Brad took us into the downtown post office. We were three blocks away when he realized he’d left his wallet on the counter. I raced back for it, to no avail. But when we returned to Buxton a package arrived containing his wallet with its contents intact, including the money. Brad made it a teaching moment, telling us that, despite appearances, there was still some decency left in the world.
In my frayed book of Buxton memories, Brad Davis gets an A+. Hail, dear teacher, and farewell!” Charles Harrington Elster ’76
“In the late 90s early 2000s I was a young green teacher at Buxton. Brad and Beth were my mentors, friends, and frankly my parents while I navigated continuing to become an adult while nurturing actual adolescents. Brad was patient and frank. I have always felt fortunate for their love and affection. I know Beth and their entire family will feel the loss of Brad’s huge self immensely. But, there are so very many memories and lessons to cherish. Thank you Brad for being always you!”Erika Vesely
“Brad touched so many lives. Mine was no exception. From Anthropology class to the hockey rink and the boys dorm, Brad was genuinely and fully engaged. I did speak (email) with him a number of years ago to thank him for the energy he invested, not only in me, but also my son (’11) whose class used to joke that they graduated the same year as he. My daughter (’13), had a more limited opportunity to experience Brad, as Beth and he had moved off campus but still came around from time to time.
I have many memories of Brad as an instructor, but one which stays with me to this day is a written comment he made in his characteristic red pen on an anthropology paper I had written Freshman year. I shared this comment, and the actual paper, with my kids when my older son was approaching Buxton in 2007. In addition to a few other things, he said:
‘If you spoke the way you wrote you wouldn’t be able to order a hamburger at McDonalds.’
I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but this comment really sunk in. As another alum noted in one of their public comments, if you let Brad down, he let you know it. In their case, as well as mine, ‘you wanted to get up as quickly as possible to let him know his high expectations of you were not misplaced.’ I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly and I believe his comment on my paper was similar in this vein. There was no sugar coating it with Brad. There was the truth and not much else. And he didn’t seem to have a lot of time or energy for things outside that realm.
I do want to say that there are a number of other lifetime faculty from Buxton that are equally deserving of the rich praise we are bestowing upon Brad. But on this day and at this time, let’s let the honor go exclusively to Bradford K. Davis.
Well done Sir. Well done.” Byron Elliot ’81, P ’11, ’13
“Brad was such a towering figure in my time at Buxton. He was hard on us, sometimes too hard, but I always felt the tenderness and respect at the center of it. Two memories immediately stand out: after a big paper he had the whole class over to his house and we lay on the floor in the warmth of the wood burning stove and he played us classical music – exquisite. The other is when Jessica Grindstaff and I were fighting in our senior year and he pulled us out of class and said something like “if you two powerful women can’t find a way to get along then there’s no hope for the rest of us…” or something like that. You will be remembered Brad!” Nora Lisman Zimbler ’96
“Brad was an amazing teacher. I think I only took one class from him that he only taught one year – political science. And like many, it had a profound effect on me. It was as good as any class that I had in undergraduate, graduate and professional school. I could actually say that about all of the classes that I am blessed to have taken at Buxton. My education there was profound and ripples to this day in everything I do and strive to do. I may have taken Brad’s European history class as well – can’t remember.
I send Beth, Graeme, Hilary, Elizabeth and Andrea my deepest sympathy and condolences at the loss of their husband, life partner, father, grandfather and incredible human being.” Philip Rickey ’78
“I don’t have words for how formative my time at Buxton studying with Brad was. If you let him down, he let you know and you wanted to get back up as quickly as possible to show him how right his high expectations were. He held us all up to a level of critical thinking that I don’t think I approached again with a teacher even in college. I’m heading to Paris this April and I’ve been thinking of him non stop as I’ve been planning my trip for my girls and realizing what a profound privilege it was to go to that city with his staggering knowledge, passion and creative thinking. What. a. gift. I already missed you Brad and now only more so… “Jessica Grindstaff ’96
“I only had him for one class during the four years I went to Buxton, but he was my favorite teacher, ever, in my entire career of being a student.
From the moment I met Brad I loved him. We were sitting in the Billiard Room for my interview and he asked me what my least favorite school subject was. I went on a big rant about history, wars and the annoyance of learning about old, white men fighting for power. After my righteous monologue I then asked Brad what subjects he taught. He grinned and said, ‘History.’
We were officially in love at that very moment!
Brad’s twinkling blue eyes seemed to see all my angsty, ridiculous teenage drama in a way no other adult had seen.
He forced me into playing soccer, which I ended up loving.
He pushed me to be a better writer; to go deeper, fuller, richer.
When he razzed me, he always called me by my last name.
And he seemed to truly love when our Anthropology class would chorus, ‘Fuck you, Brad,’ saying we sounded like cooing birds and calling us the ‘The Sophomore Fuck You Birds of Buxton.’
The last time I saw Brad was in 2003 at a reunion. I said, ‘Brad, let’s take a picture together because I love you’ and I snapped the camera. (Yes, camera!) He said, ‘Aw, Brown, I love you, too.’
I love you, Brad Davis, thank you for being my favorite teacher.” Kathryne Dora Brown ’89
“Brad gave me a love for art history that I carry with me to this day. He was a smart ass in the best way. I will always remember his devilish smile after a quick joke. If he knew you were slacking he would call you to task but be just as quick with words of support. Love to the family. He will be missed.” Kevin B. Zeigler ’91
“I am so saddened by this news, but also deeply reflective and encouraged that I too had the privilege of experiencing Brad as one of our phenomenal Buxton educators. He truly was a gem and I am grateful that he shared his wisdom, family, and humor with us all. I remember the way he encouraged our confidence in learning History as well as his care and commitment to our overall community beyond the classroom, especially as a soccer coach for many of us. He always reminded me with his teachable moments and prodding – he’d say, ‘you’re not so tough’ in his jovial way, and I always understood him to be showing through his example the safe space Buxton has always provided through our growing teen years , that it was ok to come out of my shell and to be vulnerable. I always appreciated the fact that he presented himself as ‘tough,’ but also never failed to show he was also funny and kind and a mentor to others. He will always be fondly remembered. I extend my warmest wishes and heartfelt condolences to the Buxton family.” Athena Moore ’89
“Brad was my advisor for the three years I attended Buxton. I will never forget when he came to Cambridge during the summer to take me out to lunch and discuss some of the personal things I was going through. I felt that Brad always made time to be there, he would take the extra steps, and I have never forgotten this caring and support. His classes were a highlight for me as well. When I read the news of Brad’s death, I was greatly saddened, but also had a deep sense of gratitude, to have had such an instrumental and caring adult in my life.” Kaja Reynolds ’84
“Love Brad so much thinking of him supporting the radicalizing of soooo many! Thinking of his retelling of the wizard of Oz as Capitalism failures, or watching cartoons about communism, or learning about nuclear wars and white supremacy and triumphant despair of creating a weapon so devastating deadly means nobody wins! Thinking of our drives to the Rockefeller mansion as he told me the history of labor exploitation! He was my thesis advisor, and supported as a college advisor! Thinking of what it means to rebel, to be thorough with your critiques and even more savvy with your solutions so much loved to this beloved teacher, mentor, of mine forever rest in powerful peace!” Donnay J Edmund ’12
“I still have my very worn copy of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s The (H)Armless People, from Brad’s freshman Anthro class. He taught us 14 year olds the skills of listening, learning, and appreciating ideas and practices different from our own. At the same time he was a total goofball, and often camouflaged his “teacher” skills with being one of those rare adults who never forgot what it was like to be a kid. I will always have a warm spot in my heart for Brad Davis.” Christian Dauer ’83
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Founded in 1928, Buxton is a small, progressive, four-year college-preparatory boarding and day school in Western Massachusetts.
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