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Rebecca Hemphill "Dolly" Davis
Birth: 1909
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Feb. 16, 1980
Elkridge
Howard County
Maryland, USA

Dolly, as Rebecca was fondly called, was a remarkable person and a woman of hope.

She was born in West Chester, PA to parents Marion B. Davis and Clara Hemphill. Her mother came from West Chester, and was an actress and commercial artist. Her father was born at his parent's estate "Glenholm" on Old Lawyers Hill Road. Marion and Clara married in 1907 and settled in a home a few houses away, built by Marion in 1914 called "Lift the Latch." She also had brothers Marion B., Jr. and Jim Davis, as well as her maternal uncle, Jim Hemphill, who all settled close by.

In "Lift the Latch" was where Dolly lived out most of her single life, taking care of her mother.

Dolly attended Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, graduating in 1928. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1932 from Bryn Mawr College in PA, having studied art history, archaeology and painting. She then taught art at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA and also studied painting at the PA Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1937, Dolly traveled to Europe with a scholarship to visit museums and study paintings and architecture. In a memorial art show (after her death), her art work included many portraits and journals of her travels, some of which surprisingly included detailed notes and illustrations of Spain's freedom fighters.

After the year abroad, she returned to rent a portrait studio in Baltimore and painted, among other things, a self-portrait [see photo]. She eventually met artistic brothers Henry and Stevens Berge at an art class and it was most likely Stevens who painted a "winsome" portrait of Dolly in his Bolton Hill townhouse. It is also a fact that Dolly knew the Berge's mutual artistic friends -- Leonard and Florence Bahr [see memorials] who were to become her Lawyers Hill neighbors later on.

The Davis family recollects that her paintings were that they covered all the wall space in the house. Because Dolly didn't like that, she would sometimes give her canvases to other people to use. In 1941, Dolly suddenly stopped painting because she thought it improper to be involved in art during wartime, but she never picked up a brush again.

Dolly was devoted in taking care of her widowed mother and when her mother died in 1970, she put her paintings in closets and hung up other people's art. When asked if she would ever go back to "art," Dolly replied,

"I've got some talent, but I've said what I have to say."

From 1941 to 1943, Dolly attended the Union Theological Seminary in New York. She worked in Episcopal parishes as a director of religious education until 1960 and traveled to Kentucky, Iowa and to St. Anne's in Annapolis, where she retired, only to enter Coppin State College to earn certification to teach children with learning disabilities. She also worked in the civil rights movement, and began volunteer tutoring - teaching remedial math to second and third graders five days a week at the Woodson Elementary School.

She was very active in Grace Episcopal Church in Elkridge, and her last project was church sponsorship of a "boat family" from SE Asia to relocate in Elkridge. Charity work also included orphanages, missions in Haiti, fostering children, and secular work for the Baltimore Symphony and the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She attended all the July 4th picnics on the Hill and was interactive with her neighbors. Dolly also loved gardening.

Personal possessions and a showy lifestyle were unimportant to her. She trusted people, and would think nothing of striking up a conversation with strangers to be sociable.
And she was not afraid of living alone, Dolly always said,

"You can't live your life in fear."

A close friend of hers explained that

"Dolly was not a "cardboard saint" - but a joyous person who loved people."

Dolly was murdered by an local handyman to whom she gave a job. He was found guilty of murdering other people in Elkridge as well.

At her memorial service, it was remembered that "only Dolly's "body" was taken from her by Evil. For, overwhelmed by the living presence of Christ, she had surrendered her "life" long ago, given it away to Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. Evil and brokenness are facts, but the Presence of Love is stronger.

Dolly knew what it was to have the living Presence of God in her life, so much so that she refused to be a prisoner of fear. As the power of the Holy Spirit transformed her, she gave her life to our Lord and to His church, to His poor, and His lonely and frightened ones..."

 
 
Burial:
Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery
Elkridge
Howard County
Maryland, USA
 
Created by: msb
Record added: Feb 22, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13414115
Rebecca Hemphill Dolly Davis
Added by: msb
 
Rebecca Hemphill Dolly Davis
Added by: msb
 
 
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- Marsha Williams Byrd of Missouri
 Added: Apr. 28, 2011
a spirit and soul that is bright and shines in the darkest of hours
- Just Another Woman of GOD
 Added: Sep. 28, 2006
Thinking of how much God's stamp was on your being, by making a difference for others with your life -- a life not lived for its own sake.
- Mary B., a grateful neighbor
 Added: Feb. 22, 2006
 
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