Melba Margaret Mewhinney Davis, a part-time resident of Shaw Island, died April 6, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. at her Emerald Heights retirement home in Redmond.
She was 97.
Melba was born Friday, Oct. 13, 1911 in the rural farm town of Holland, Texas. She began studying the piano at the age of 5 and by age 7 was playing at revival tent gatherings.
She attended the University of Wisconsin and Southern Methodist University from 1928-1932. After receiving two music degrees, she attended The Juilliard School of Music and studied in Los Angeles with Leopold Godowsky.
Melba was an adventurer. She traveled to Mexico City, Europe, North Africa, and later to Asia. She taught piano and worked with the Dallas Symphony before her marriage at 29 to Hugh Davis, a SMU engineering and physics professor. Hugh and Melba lived throughout the U.S. before coming to the Northwest.
Melba had many hobbies and interests. She was an avid gardener, beachcomber, traveler, piano teacher, naturalist and Girl Scout leader. Since 1959, she spent significant amounts of time on her beloved Shaw Island. She was very active in the Lake Burien and Redmond Presbyterian churches.
Besides her devotion to her faith, family and friends, Melba was a devoted collector – antiques, marbles, pewter, buttons, door knobs, Early American glass, beads, insulators, floats, jewelry, driftwood, old rusting iron, bottles, lace, wheels, shells, birds nests, rocks, fossils, artifacts, bones, beach glass, teeth and cones. She not only collected these things, but she also used them in her art, investigated and learned about them, and belonged to a number of study groups. Melba’s enthusiasm for life and passion for learning was ever-present.
In Melba’s words, “Celebrate the temporary! There has never been a dull moment in my life!”
She is survived by her son, Joe Davis; daughters, Helen Sutton (Ken), Carole Davis (Brud Joslin), Kim Rogers (John); grandchildren Dobbs and Matt Sutton and Colter Hoyt; great-grandchildren Troy and Sebastian Roman; sister, Len Nitschke (Richard); and various nieces and nephews.
Memorial celebrations will be at Emerald Heights in Redmond on April 19th at 1:30 p.m., and at Shaw Island Community Building on April 20 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Shaw Islanders Inc. Music Fund, P.O. Box 443, Shaw Island 98286; or The Cancer Research Institute, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York, NY 10006.
— Family of Melba Margaret Mewhinney Davis