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Holder of AFD Badge No. 1, Basil Davis passes on
A volunteer fireman with the Arlington Fire Department for 35 years, Basil Edward Davis, 77, passed away Jan. 3 in Arlington.
He takes with him a lot of good stories, said EMT and firefighter Harold Smith, whose three sons served as pallbearers at the Jan. 6 funeral.
Most of our firefighters today started after Davis retired in 1990, Smith said, adding some have heard his stories nonetheless at special events that Davis never failed to attend.
He definitely liked to bellow out stories, said a fellow firefighter for many years, Ben Knudson. You could hear his voice whenever he was around. He was always talking. Every time you get together hed come up with another new story.
Davis joined the department in 1955 and served loyally until 1990.
When I joined the department he was a young recruit and he was always ready to climb up on the roofs and fight fires. We were glad that he wanted to go, Knudson said.
When Smith joined the department in 1971, Davis encouraged him to pursue EMT training.
Basil was one of the first to run the ambulance and he sent me off for training. When I got done he called me Dr. Smith.
The fire department operated an ambulance before it was transferred to the hospital for a while, and before there were 600 calls a month, Smith said.
Thats when EMT started changing rapidly.
There were no defibulators back then, Smith said.
The owner of Badge No. 1 for 35 years, Davis was the kind of guy who was able to use past experiences to help adapting to new knowledge.
Smith said the well-known story around the department is that Davis always followed the trucks out on every call even before he was a fireman.
So they decided he might as well be part of the force, Smith said.
Davis was a very loyal volunteer fireman, attending 90 percent of all trainings and meetings, according to both Smith and Dean Olsen Jr., an unofficial historian of the fire department.
Basil was the only person at the fire departments centennial celebration in 2003 who was also at the 50th anniversary party, Olsen said.
Olsen also relayed a story from Basils brother about him leaving a family dinner for a fire call.
His mother told him to stay put that there were other firemen, but he took off out the door anyway, Olsen said.
He was just that kind of guy always ready to help out, Olsen said.
Davis was born to Harry and Willie Davis on April 19, 1929 in Brewster, Wash.
He spent 30 years as owner-operator of Plaza 76 gas station on West Avenue in Arlington, retiring in 2000, when his son Jerry took over the business.
He also contributed to the youth of the community by allowing teenage boys to use equipment at the service station to fix their own cars, and he offered jobs to the kids, too, when they needed jobs, Smith said. Plaza 76 was one of the last gas stations in the region to offer service at filling tanks.
He was very giving. He gave a lot of his time when it was all volunteer, Smith pointed out, adding the firemen in those days put their lives at risk and there was no pay involved.
Davis ability to talk enabled him to be an effective negotiator.
He had a BS degree in psychology that helped in mitigating situations, Smith said.
When he wasnt chasing fires, Davis enjoyed listening to bluegrass music in Darrington and country music played by his sons.
He also enjoyed ending the day with a bowl of ice cream, Smith remembered.
His wife of 52 years, Doris Davis, died in 2001.
He is survived by his children, Jim (Cathi) Davis of Pateros, Wash., Nancy (Dan) Nulf of Arlington, Kathy (David) Johnson of Arlington, Jerry (Julie) Davis of Arlington, Miker (Chauntelle) Davis of Arlington, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Davis was buried at the Arlington Municipal Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Arlington Fire Department.
Basil was in the department for a long time and he never shirked his duty, Knudson said.