Pauline “Paule” Davis, a Brit who owned The Albany Journal for seven years following the death of her husband, died last week at her Columbus home. She was 89.
Mrs. Davis’ ashes were placed Tuesday at Andersonville National Cemetery with those of her husband, William O. “Bill” Davis, the colorful and controversial publisher who moved with Mrs. Davis to Albany to buy The Journal in 1949. Bill Davis died in 1997.
Albany attorney Bill Underwood said Monday that he’ll fondly remember Mrs. Davis as an active volunteer and dedicated life partner to one of Albany’s most renowned and reviled community members.
”Bill and Pauline were a real love story and she had to put up with a lot from Bill, but was devoted to him,” Underwood said. “Bill was a walking encyclopedia who knew everybody in Albany, and made half of them angry at one time or another.”
Dennis Gunnels, another friend, described Mrs. Gunnels as a “bright light” in the community.
“Pauline was a great supporter of Albany and a friend of many charitable organizations, including Paws Patrol,” Gunnels said. “I will greatly miss her bright sense of humor and her zest for life.”
Born in 1919 in Kingston-on-Thames in Surrey, England, Pauline Annette White Davis graduated from Kingston College and studied French after college in Belgium in a Roman Catholic convent school. She returned to England when war broke out in Europe. Soon after England entered the war against Germany, she left Kingston to work in London, where the train stations were frequently bombed.
For two years, she worked for the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle, who later became the French president. During the London blitz in 1940 and 1941, she was living in Kensington, one of the oldest neighborhoods in London. People were constantly interrupted by air raids, seeking shelter wherever they could. Many were killed.
Mrs. Davis had many wartime jobs, including working as secretary to an English general, working for the Cabinet office at Whitehall in the same building as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and with the U.S. Army’s Psychological Warfare Division. In this job, she was sent to Paris and later transferred to Bad Nauheim, Germany, where she helped to collect Hitler’s propaganda, films, books, flyers and posters, and replace them with American and English films. She worked as director of personnel and transportation for the American Red Cross headquarters in Wiesbaden. It was through these positions with the U.S. Army that she met and married Bill Davis, an aircraft radio operator with the Army Air Corps. They lived in Paris, where Pauline Davis worked as secretary to the head of UNESCO, and moved in 1948 to Berlin, where she was assistant editor of the Berlin Observer, a U.S. newspaper, during the Berlin Blockade.
In 1949, the couple moved to Albany to purchase The Albany Journal, an independent weekly newspaper that would later be honored for its civil rights movement coverage. The Davis family resided in Radium Springs from 1950 until Albany’s 1994 flood.
Upon Bill Davis’ death, Mrs. Davis took over as editor and publisher until 2004, when she sold the newspaper to Sandy Farkas, who sold the business to Kevin Hogencamp last April. Mrs. Davis remained active in the community with the Albany Paws Patrol until she moved in November 2007 to Columbus, where Mrs. Davis and her cocker Spaniel, Millie, resided at Spring Harbor at Green Island in Columbus.
Survivors include a daughter, Pamela Elizabeth Davis, of Atlanta; Patricia Skurnik of Denver, Colo.; a niece and nephew in Surrey, England; and a niece and nephew in Alpharetta, Ga.
Striffler-Hamby Mortuary in Columbus handled Mrs. Davis’ death arrangements.