Ruston Daily Leader Executive Sports Editor Emeritus Buddy Davis has died.
Davis died Saturday morning in his sleep in his room at the Princeton Placed Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ruston, La. He was 72.
Davis covered high school and college sports in Lincoln Parish for the Daily Leader for over five decades, spotlighting young athletes, such as Karl Malone, Terry Bradshaw and Leon Barmore.
Perhaps known as the most noticeable staff writer for the Daily Leader, Orville Kince “Buddy” Davis, a native of Ruston, La., began his journalism career as a student at Ruston High School during the 1960s, submitting stories to the Ruston Daily Leader as a sports reporter.
He later received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech University, who later inducted Davis its Hall of Fame for his work covering the school’s sports, as well as others in the parish.
In 1970, Davis succeeded Lawrence J. Fox as sports editor for the Daily Leader.
Ruston Daily Leader editor-in-chief Scott Boatright praised Davis calling him a trailblazer.
“Buddy raised the bar for other sportswriters,” Boatright said.
Davis was one of the first white sports writers to cover a historically black college, traveling with the Grambling State Tigers on numerous occasions, including games in Chicago and New York City.
“People in Ruston didn’t appreciate that he was breaking that barrier, but he didn’t care,” said Boatright. “He thought that the Grambling coaches and athletes deserved it, so he wrote about it.”
Famed football coach Eddie G. Robinson told Sports Illustrated in a 1995 interview that he considered Davis to be “like a son.”
Robinson served as a pallbearer at the funeral of both of Davis’ parents.
Boatright also mentioned how Davis had every opportunity to move on to larger news markets, such as Dallas, Texas, but he wanted to remain in Lincoln Parish, which was his home.
Davis received many awards and honors for his work at the Daily Leader.
Davis received the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Association and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and was also the past recipient of the “Mr. Basketball” title from the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches.
In 2014, Davis was inducted into the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions, alongside former Northwestern State Demons and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs head coach A.L. Williams, former MLB outfielder Ralph Garr and Baylor University head women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey.
In 2017, the press box in the Joe Aillet Stadium at Louisiana Tech University was named in honor of Davis and the university established the O.K. “Buddy” Davis Endowed Scholarship to help student-athletes.
“His daily stories – covering Lincoln Parish sports for more than five decades – were instrumental in bringing national attention to so many of our athletes, coaches, programs, and his beloved alma mater,” Louisiana Tech University President Les Guice said in an interview with KNOE News.
“When you think about sports in Lincoln Parish,” Grambling sports announcer Santoria Black said. “He had a way of making [athletes] feel like you were the biggest thing in that story.”
In addition to writing for the Ruston Daily Leader, Davis also wrote freelances pieces for The Gramblinite.
Visitation is set for Friday, July 19 and funeral services are set for Saturday, July 20.