Obituary: Don Q. Davidson
Don Q. Davidson, 1927-2018
“A man is born, but he's no good no how, without a song.”
Friends and relatives mourn the loss of Don Q. Davidson, who drew his last breath on Friday December 21, at 3:43 pm on the winter solstice. Don had suffered a stroke in May of 2016, but it was the emotional shock of losing his wife of 68 years on October 31st that brought on his precipitous decline.
Don was born October 18,1927 in Melrose, Massachusetts to Hazel Mae Half and Ernest Joseph Davidson. While on a business trip to Amsterdam, New York, Ernie went to church and fell in love with Hazel, a young woman who sang in the choir; they passed their love of music down to their son.
Don, the youngest of three, played violin and piano from a young age. Summers were spent on the Davidson farm in Ways Mills, Quebec, across the border from Vermont. His father was transferred by Wilson & Co. (Swift Armor) to Chicago and the family settled on a working farm in Wheaton, called Merriwoods. Don had a horse named Sally, a bulldog named Scruffy, and a pedigree bull names St. James Count Alfred.
Don was nicknamed “Quixote” at Wheaton Community High School (Class of 1945), but the “Q” actually stood for Quiri, a family name on his mother’s side. In high school, his interests were orchestra, choir, broadcasting and art. He was in a sextet and on the track team. He officially changed his name to Don Q. when studying organ and choral music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. During college, Don rented a room in a private home and fell hard for the landlady’s daughter, Barbara Lou Ingwersen. She became his sweetheart of Sigma Chi and, in 1950, his wife.
Don was entrepreneurial in college. While at Northwestern, he started the Don Q. Davidson Agency which booked talent for events, and he organized a barbershop quartet which caught the attention of Big Band director, Wayne King, “The Waltz King” in Chicago. Don was recruited to bring “youthful fire” to a foursome called, The Collegians. They played nightly at the Boulevard Room at The Stevens Hotel in Chicago behind the Muriel Abbot ice show.
Don sang sea chanteys, patriotic fare, and show tunes in the Navy’s BlueJacket Recruit Choir at Great Lakes, Illinois in 1946. He gave up show business for family life, but never stopped singing and playing the piano until a few days before he died.
In the 1960s, Don was sales manager on commercial accounts for Kraft Food. He directed the Jr. Choir at St. Marks in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He began a career in magazine publishing. He worked for Ladies’ Home Journal for 20 years and Woman’s Day Magazine for 10 more years.
Ladies’ Home Journal transferred Don, then known as DQ, to their New York office in 1968. Don faced the dawn of the sexual revolution and the social upheaval of the late 1960s with three daughters — Sandie, Karen, and Nancy — at home in Wilton. In 1970, there was a sit-in in his bosses office when Gloria Steinem and about 100 feminists challenged outdated concepts of beauty, homemaking, and motherhood. The women negotiated for an 8-page feature in the magazine.
In 1972, the couple lost their youngest daughter Nancy to Reyes Syndrome. When mental illness struck their eldest Sandie, Barb and Don adopted their grandsons, Chris and Frank.
Don retired from magazine publishing in the 1980s to devote himself to a joint business venture with his grandsons, Fine Woodworking. They designed cabinetry in tandem with Barb’s interior design projects that graces many homes and offices in Wilton, including the furniture in the sanctuary at St. Matthew’s.
Don sang for 50 years in the bass section of his church choir. He was chairman of the Arts at St. Matthew’s for many years, and in the 90’s, became Senior Warden there. He said one of the great moments of his life was singing in a concert to celebrate the life of local jazz great, Dave Brubeck, with his sons, Darius, Chris, and Dan and the Paul Winter consort. Another thrilling memory was a 1972 trip to the IP fishing camp in Boisetown, New Brunswick on the Miramichi River with Jazz clarinetist, Benny Goodman, who practiced in the camp kitchen.
Later in life, Barb and Don traveled with friends to Russia, the Baltic sea, South African vineyards, Victoria Falls, and to Botswana for game drives. In France, they rented a small yacht and cruised the Canal du Midi with self-service locks to Carcassonne. For their 70th birthdays, they toured Italy with their daughter, Karen. For their 80th birthdays, they spent a month in Australia and New Zealand.
Since 1989, Don was a Kiwanian and one of the go-to song leaders for events. He was on the Kiwanis house committee and a dynamic host at their annual Memorial Day Pancake breakfast at the Congregational Church. For a few years he played Santa on the Wilton firetruck.
Don is survived by his daughter Karen and son-in-law Peter Seward of Lake Placid, New York; his grandson Chris of Georgetown; his brother’s (Robert Hugh Davidson) youngest daughter, Amy Davidson Hicks of Port Jefferson, New York; and his brother-in-law, James J. Ingwersen, of Sister Bay, Wisconsin.
Please join us at a tribute to Don at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 36 New Canaan Road in Wilton on Sunday, January 13th, 2019 at 2:30pm. The Rector, the Rev. Marissa Rohrbach will preside. All are welcome. In Don’s memory, please make donations to St. Matthew’s Church for additions to the Davidson memorial bench or the Wilton Kiwanis Foundation, PO Box 204, Wilton, CT 06897.