Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Honored as grand marshal, Davis delivers

Council president served with 116th Armor Calvary Brigade

Express Staff Writer

He's a city council president. He's a father. He's a native. He's a husband. He's a grandfather. He's a boss. He's a board member. He's a volunteer. He's a guardsman. He's a son. And this year, for Hailey's Days of the Old West Fourth of July Parade, he's the grand marshal.

Who else can fill so many shoes in his hometown other than Rick Davis?

"I was just so humbled that I was asked to do this. Of all the kudos I've received in my life, this is the pinnacle," Davis said.

Davis was selected as grand marshal this year in large part because he served as a member of the 116th Armor Cavalry Brigade of the Idaho Army National Guard, said Melissa Humphreys, a volunteer with the Wood River Valley Family Support Group for those with active family members in the military.

"He's a tireless devotee of the community," said Gary Kotz, a Hailey Chamber of Commerce board member and Marketron general manager, who is helping to organize this year's celebration.

"I couldn't do half of what I do for the community if it wasn't for my wife," Davis said, explaining that family is part of what has made his life in Hailey so fulfilling. "She's my go-to girl."

The theme for this year's parade is "Honoring Hailey's Military: Past, Present and Future."

Since Davis served with the 116th, he is the perfect choice this year, Kotz said. "I'm actually hoping some of the men and women will be home from Iraq."

Davis said he also hopes that he will have some comrades home to ride with him in the parade.

"As I am riding down Main Street waving to everyone my thoughts will be with them," Davis said, in his typical humble way. "Freedom is not free. It's quite expensive. We are honoring those who gave their lives, what is happening now and what will happen in the future ... fighting to keep our freedom, helping us to continue to have a good time."

Although Davis was never called to combat duty he did have an uncle in the Battle of the Bulge—in World War II—and a neighbor who was in the Korean War.

"When you talk to those people it makes you realize a lot of sacrifices have been made," Davis said.

Davis served with the 116th when it was adapted as a scout platoon from an armored division in the 1970s. The shift came during the year and a half Davis spent with the Guard in Butte, Mont., doing a communications stint with the FBI near the Anaconda Mine.

"The only thing that was active in Butte, Mont., was the bars," Davis said.

More prominent in Davis' life has been change in Hailey.

"Having been born in Hailey and seen the past I haven't seen anything I don't like. A community needs to grow to remain vibrant."

Davis views skyrocketing property values as a problem for seniors, who make up a large portion of the community and are an important asset.

Honorary grand marshals are the Heritage Court Ladies—Anita Gray, of Ketchum/Sun Valley; Orpha Smith Mecham, of Carey; Lula Banker Shoemaker, of Bellevue; and Gladys McAtee, of Hailey—who were honored Sunday, June 26, by the Blaine County Historical Museum at a coronation and pageant at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. The four ladies will ride in a vintage carriage in Hailey's Days of the Old West Fourth of July Parade, Carey's Pioneer Days Parade, Ketchum's Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade, and Bellevue's Labor Day Parade.

"I really enjoy the Heritage Court. I was Mrs. McAtee's escort at the coronation," he said, excited to ride in the Fourth of July Parade with the four ladies who have been chosen as representatives of Blaine County heritage.

"As long as it's not on a horse it will be OK," Davis said. The ladies will be riding in a vintage carriage, but for anyone who saw Davis in the Soap Box Derby at Rotarun this winter, riding a docile farm animal should be a snap.

Davis has lived his whole life in Hailey but he has been to Paris—Idaho, that is. Actually, he has never crossed any oceans, but Davis does have ambitions of seeing Inca ruins and rainforests.

"The engineering is incredible. I am yearning to see those," he said. "It's a great piece of history you can still enjoy."

But, until he gets a chance to spring free from his community responsibilities and work at Sun Valley Title for a more exotic adventure, Idaho captures Davis' attention for trips with his camper trailer.

"It's fun to explore different parts of Idaho," he said. "Although I've lived here my whole life, I've never been to Massacre Rocks, Malad Gorge or the Hagerman Fossil Beds."

This week, Davis is away enjoying some camping and swimming at the Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Davis said at one time all three of his children owned houses in Hailey, where all of his grandchildren were also born. Certainly his roots in the community are deep.

His grandfather, who worked as a custodian for Wood River High School, was a mentor Davis looked up to because he was an even-keel guy and the house where his family homesteaded still stands near the highway south of Bellevue. It is part of the reason he has been an active community member.

"The city has been so good to my family. You can choose to become involved or not. It's just a real honor to be the grand marshal," Davis said. "I couldn't think of a better place to spend the Fourth than in the city of Hailey. A lot of people feel the same way because that street is packed."

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