Elizabeth “Betty” Ella Davison Knox
FARMINGTON -- One of the Pierce House (204 Main St.) pioneering spirits, Elizabeth “Betty” Ella Davison Knox, 96, died on Feb. 18. 2011, surrounded by her daughter Jane, and two devoted Pierce staff members, Mariam Worthley and Kaylie Thornton.
She resided here from December 27, 2006, not only in the company of extraordinary gifted and educated women of her era but also in a caring atmosphere that fostered the dignity, physical and spiritual well being of all its residents.
She was born on April 30, 1914, and brought up in the best stoic New England traditions by Lewis Davison and Ella Chadwick Davison in a loving family of five children, the three sisters and one brother, whose values were faith, love, hard work and most importantly charity: offer food to the beggar who might come to your door during WWII, invite a stranger without a family to your home on those sacred holidays, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
Sunday was a day for quiet and reflection. Church, flowers and music filled her life as a child, as did love of her sisters, and of nature, things that were passed on to children and great grandchildren. Later Elizabeth’s own children all took music lessons: piano, trumpet, trombone, even sax, drum and base violin, so that her family could easily entertain themselves forming their own small orchestra or jazz band, and her oldest two sang and still do in church choirs.
She also saw to it that her family spent summers in the White Mountains camping, and the four Davison sisters later in their years would frequently go camping just by themselves. It was to protect this rugged woods environment in Maine that Elizabeth became an outspoken voice campaigning for Maine’s bottle redemption bill (1976) one of the first 10 states to have such a bill in order to protect the woods and fields.
This same love of nature is now reflected in her youngest son’s (Jim) growing collection of wonderful photographs of birds, deer, moose and other small creatures. The oldest son David has carried his environmental concerns to the floor of the New Hampshire legislature where as Republic member of the Environmental Protection committee he is fighting to bring bills to a successful vote to protect the environment from the careless disposal of used medical needless and junked cars.
Elizabeth graduated from Woodsville High School, NH, in 1932. From 1930 to 1934, she worked as a waitress at the Wawbeek Sports camp to pay for her college education, it was here she met her future husband, John Franklin Knox.
She attended the University of New Hampshire from 1932-35 graduating with a B.A. Then, after one year of teaching English in a Sunapee, NY, a stipulation of her parents before she could marry, she married John on August 7, 1937.with a B.A. in English. Settling with John her husband in Maine where he worked as a traveling salesman, they lived first in Yarmouth, then New Vineyard and finally settled in Farmington in the mid 1940s.
She taught French at Strong High School 1954-55, then English in the S.A.D. #9 Farmington School Systems 1956-1974. She passed on the traditional Davison career as an educator to three of her children, David (retired history teacher in Wolfeborro High School, Jane (Professor at Bowdoin College and Peter (Special Ed Directors, schools of Jay).
Elizabeth completed two courses toward the then existing M.A. program in English at the University of Maine, Farmington: Advanced Composition and 19th and 20th Century English Literature in 1968, but was unable to finish the program due to the demands of her family. She became an accomplished writer and together with his sisters (the HECK sisters), Harriet, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Kathleen, wrote and published the HECK memories, poems and etchings of growing up in the small town of Woodsville, New Hampshire seen through which reveals, of their New England through the eyes of children and childhood and young adolescents with joys, humor and richness.
Her favorites activities were church, family and garden. Elizabeth was a pillar of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (Farmington/Wilton) Maine, and her passing marks the end of an era. She was one of the founding members of The Mission of the Church in Farmington, in 1949, supplying music (first piano then organ) and flowers from the first Eucharist in the Masonic Hall with Fr. Craig and all subsequent services first in the basement of the Old North Church, then in the newly built parish church on North Maine Street, Farmington and finally in its present location at the corner of High Street and school, in Wilton Maine.
Above and beyond she will be remembered for her faithful service as church organist supplying music for so many, Elizabeth will also be remembered as queen of the pie sales, a tradition that St. Luke began as early as the mid 1960s, a tradition along with the lobster supper where she also reined and drew in so many from the community.
Then there were the yearly Christmas crafts fairs at which Elizabeth churned out her well known aprons, note cards with just the right tiny twig of a dried flower from her own garden, and her star directions for windows.
Her activity for the Church Alter Guild was most memorable, particularly for the flowers she cultivated from her magnificent beautiful gardens on Birchwood Lane nurtured just for the church.
Elizabeth’s charitable volunteer activities extended to homes for the elder Orchard Park and Edgewood Park, where she played the piano and sang private church services for the elderly. She volunteered in the Mt. Blue Hospital Coffee shop. She put in endless hours for the Mount Blue Garden Club caring for flowers in the park and out important buildings such as the Farmington Court House.
Above all she will be remembered for her kindness, calmness and graciousness to all, her sweet smile and mischievous twinkling eyes just ever so slightly giving away a great inner strength.
She is survived by her children, John David Knox of Wolfeboro, NH, James Knox and his wife, Elaine Knox of Wilton, and Jane Knox of Brunswick; grandchildren, Beth Knox, Sarah Knox Olkkola and her husband, Justin; Kimberlie Knox, Robert Knox, Scott Taylor and his wife Caroline and great grandchildren, Tyler and Alexis Knox, and Anya Taylor; two sisters: Charlotte Davison Hamm and Harriet Davison Bruce; and a daughter-in-law, Patty Gillis-Knox of Lawrence, MA.
She is predeceased by her husband, John Knox; her son, Peter Knox; her daughter-in-law, Gay Knox; and a sister, Kathleen Davison Jackson.
The family would like to thank the Pierce House residents, family, staff, and volunteers, who provided a wonderful home for her last four years.
Family and friends are invited to call Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wiles Remembrance Center, 136 High St., Wilton. A Celebration of Life Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the corner of High and School Streets, Wilton. Following services a church reception will be held in the church undercroft, hosted by the Women of St. Lukes.