William Edward (Bill) Davis
October 5, 1921 to August 13, 2009
A man once known as Australia’s best tenor voice passed away peacefully after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s Thursday at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.
Bill Davis was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather and will be missed by anyone who was privileged to see him smile, hear him sing or experience his Aussie charm. He is survived by Phyllis, his loving wife of 64 years, his daughter Lorraine (Mike) Barner, grandchildren Sean (Alena), Edward (Christiana), David (Julie), and Heather Barner and three great grandchildren Nikolai William Edward, Quinn Sean and Anouk Magdalena. He was predeceased by his mother Amy Tivy and his stepfather Dick, his father William Charles Davis, his sister Joy and numerous Australian aunts and uncles.
Bill started singing as a choir boy at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia when he was just 10 years old. He studied there for four years, becoming head chorister and developing his beautiful voice. At 20, Bill joined the Australian infantry and was sent to New Guinea where he experienced the horrors of war. He was transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force and was sent to Calgary’s Currie Barracks in Canada to train as a pilot, earning his wings at the RCAF training school.
In Calgary, Bill met his bride Phyllis but the two were separated when his squadron was sent to Quebec for overseas training. His troops weren’t needed overseas as the war was winding down and he was eventually deployed back to New Guinea where he remained until almost the end of the war. Bill and Phyllis weren’t together again until 1945. She arrived via boat in Sydney on Oct. 22 and they were married five days later at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
In Sydney, he became well known as a singer of ballads and semi-classical numbers. He sang twice with Jimmy Dorsey’s orchestra and performed often in Sydney’s vibrant music scene. Bill’s love of singing continued when the couple and their young daughter Lorraine returned to Calgary in 1951.
He sang before the Queen during the Calgary Stampede’s Golden Jubilee, excelled at solos at Grace Presbyterian Church for 35 years and sang the national anthem at Calgary Flames games many times. Bill sang to his largest audience when he sang on the televised Arthur Godfrey show out of New York.
When he wasn’t singing, he worked at CFCN radio in Calgary where his charm and shrewd business sense made him an excellent salesman. Those who knew Bill best, say he could charm the birds out of the trees when he wanted to. When CFCN expanded into television, Bill became the sales manager. He was at the station for 15 years until it was sold.
From there, Bill took a position as the assistant general manager of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. He remained at that position for 19 years until he retired in 1986. He was also a lifetime member of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the Calgary Stampede and the Royal Arch Mason’s Otuskwan Chapter.
He is sorely missed, fondly remembered and forever loved.
The family would like to thank Dr. Susan Hunter for her loving care over the years and all the staff at St. Joe’s ECU for their help. A memorial service for Bill will be held at the Comox Valley Presbyterian Church at 1725 Aspen Road in Comox on Friday, August 21 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please remember Bill with donations to St. Joseph’s General Hospital Foundation or a charity of your choice.