Obituary: Shirlee S. Davis / Mother launched career in real estate in 1970s

Died March 5, 2014

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Her four sons never fought.

Sure, maybe they wrestled like people did on television, but her sons never raised their voices with each other. She and her five sisters hadn't either.

Shirlee Stevenson Davis of Weston, Fla., died Wednesday. She was 89.

The sixth of seven children of immigrant parents from near the Lithuanian-Polish border who settled on Dinwiddie Street in the Hill District, she said they never felt poor because they had so much love.

An excellent student, she graduated from Fifth Avenue High School in just three years.

Mrs. Davis met her husband, Jerome Davis, now 93, when she was 16, and one of his friends took him to a party at her house. They married two years later and had four sons by the time Mrs. Davis was 30.

When she took her son Richard to look for jobs when he was in high school, she applied and was hired at the men's clothing store Hughes & Hatcher. While working there, an owner of Hammil Quinlan Realtors saw something special in her.

He told her "you're too good to be selling coats and ties, you should sell real estate," said Richard Davis of Atlanta, and that launched a successful real estate career in the early '70s.

When her husband retired in 1985, the couple frequently traveled to Florida and moved to Weston around 1999.

Mrs. Davis had an effervescent personality that people remembered for years, her son said, adding that she befriended everyone.

"By the time you got off the plane, she was hugging and kissing" the person she sat next to, he said, remembering her as having "a huge heart and tremendous sense of humor."

A Steelers and Pirates fan, Mrs. Davis donned black and gold and cheered on her teams.

"Everything Pittsburgh meant a lot to her," Mr. Davis said.

Mrs. Davis volunteered with Jewish women's organizations and enjoyed writing letters, golfing and cooking.

For the past 11 months, her husband has sat at her bedside for 10 hours a day, singing and talking to his wife and telling her how much he loved her. Sometimes, he'd catch a ball game or read while she slept, but otherwise he was by her side, day-in and day-out.

People at the nursing home where she was being cared for said they'd never seen devotion like his, Mr. Davis said. "After 71 years of marriage, it was a love affair at the very end."

Besides her husband and her son Richard, Mrs. Davis is survived by two other sons, Howard of Monroeville and Mark of Cincinnati; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her oldest son, Alan Jay.

Visitation begins at 10 this morning at Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave. in Shadyside, and will be followed by an 11 a.m. service. Interment will be held at Adath Israel Cemetery in Reserve.


Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1878 or Twitter: @LexiBelc.


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