Vivian Davis waved her final goodbye early in the morning of August 19. Like so many of her contributions in life, her departure was quiet, understated, purposeful. Born Vivian Chellberg, third child of Hannah and Arvid Chellberg, this magnificent woman grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Mosinee. As a child, she loved nothing more than climbing into the swing that her mother hung from the branch of an old oak tree, and pumping higher and higher, reaching toward the sky while her mind fled across the horizon to visit the great and mysterious places and people that she knew in her heart were out there somewhere. The freedom of the swing and the love of travel and adventure never left her.
At 16, she graduated from Mosinee High School, and began her odyssey. She went to work in Chicago, but soon returned to go to college, chastened by a mentor who told her she was far too smart to settle for less. She fell in love with a local boy, Edward L. “Pooch” Davis, married him when he returned from the war in 1944, followed him to Fort Riley, Kansas, and then returned with him to Mosinee where together they raised five children, Susan, Tom, Jim, Anne and Jayne. They were a popular couple, known for being the best of dancers far and wide. She became a full time mother, part time saint (part time could be argued), who mended, knitted, sewed and baked her way into the lives of countless members of the Mosinee community, faithfully supported St. John Lutheran Church, and found time to teach driving to the good nuns of St. Paul Catholic School. She learned from her mother that the greatest gift is an act of love, and she practiced that lesson every day of her life.
Mother’s love of poetry was legendary, and her ability to recite the poems of her youth was exquisite. Her children, and their children, and their friends, can close their eyes for a moment and smile as the lines float from her lips... “Blessings on thee, little man, barefoot boy with cheeks of tan...Between the dark and the daylight, when the night is beginning to lower...How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue, Oh I do think it is the pleasantest thing, ever a child can do....”
Mother went through life at double-time. It was simply amazing to see how much energy was contained in such a small person. Naturally burning that energy requires a continuing source of fuel, and it was equally amazing to see what a little trencherman she could be (and she’d want you to look up the word trencherman, she liked sending people to the dictionary). When she hit 80, a time when many are slowing, she accelerated. She moved to be with her family in Washington DC, and upped her game. Previously never known to bluff, she became a feared poker player. She also flowered as a social butterfly, constantly networking, counseling and charming people from all walks of life, sharing her wisdom, and generally looking at life as one big smorgasbord.
She loved to travel, and the little girl who dreamed of the great and mysterious world ended up seeing much that it has to offer. She got to taste the sweet summer strawberries of Sweden, her ancestral home, summered under the dappled sun and rainbow strewn skies of Ireland, marveled at the efficient madness of London. She dined with royalty, met ambassadors, political leaders, actresses, singers and writers, but was always equally happy to make a new friend in the aisle of a grocery store. Although she was Swedish, she also adopted the Irish heritage of "Pooch", reveled in the celebrations and the community, and was beloved by Irish on both sides of the pond.. Her admirers were legion, and Mother did her best to make sure that each understood that he or she was important to her.
Vivian is survived by her beloved sister Irene (Iya) Swatloski, her children, nine grandchildren, a rich array of cousins, nieces and nephews, and a vast extended family that starts in Mosinee and extends around the world. In the occasionally unforgiving way the world works, Mother and Aunt Irene lost Aunt Iya’s twin sister Ruth Ganser just last month, after sharing 95 years of the special bond that exists among sisters who love each other.
Services will be at 11 a.m., Friday, August 26, 2016, at St. John Lutheran Church, Mosinee. The Rev. Marilyn Lange will officiate. Burial will be in St. Paul Cemetery, Mosinee. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Beste Funeral Home, Mosinee. Visitation will be again from 9:30 a.m. Friday until time of services at the church. Online condolences may be made at www.bestefh.com. A celebration of her life will be held in Washington DC this Fall.
In lieu of contributions (although Mother did love flowers, especially bearded Iris), please show an act of kindness to another person, and if that person is a stranger, so much the better. That’s the way Mother lived her life, and she’d be happy to know she provided even the tiniest inspiration to others.
Vivian Davis has gone up in the swing again, taking with her a piece of our hearts, and leaving us with the sweetest memories imaginable.