Olive Davies Yaeger

Areas of Achievement: 
Home Making

Honored By

Honored by: Mendelsohn, Jr., Sidney N.
Date submitted: August 28, 2007
Gift: Leaf Tile, Medium

Olive Davies was born in Wales, U.K. on August 13, 1912 to Mary Catherine Pugh Davies and Thomas Goffrey Davies. When she was only two years old, she and her mother and aunt, Sarah Anne Pugh Edwards, crossed the Atlantic on the S.S. Mauritania (sister ship of the Lusitania). They were in transit to Douglas, Arizona where her father had already emigrated to work as the general manager of the Phelps Dodge Mercantile Company. The ocean trip would normally have been rather inconsequential but for the fact that WWI had just broken out. The ship was overloaded with passengers desperate to get out of Europe and everyone was required to wear life preservers the entire time due to the real threat of a u-boat attack.

No one alive remembers the family's first impression of Douglas but it had to have been rather shocking compared to the lush greenery of Wales. The family settled into busy lives and flourished in their new homeland though. In a somewhat unusual arrangement, Olive's parents, aunt and uncle and cousin, Bill, always lived in one house. It was a very happy extended family. It seemed that everyone got along exceptionally well by virtue of good manners and sunny dispositions. They played board games, went to talkies, vacationed on the beach in California, were active in community organizations and worshipped at the Episcopal Church. The Depression, which plagued much of the country in the 1930s, did not seem to play a significant role in their lives.

Olive loved sports and went to the University of Arizona (after one semester at Colorado Women's College) where she pledged Gamma Phi Beta sorority and majored in Physical Education. While there she met a handsome boy from Phoenix named Horton Yaeger and fell in love. They were married at her home in Douglas in 1936, then honeymooned in Mexico City and moved to Phoenix. Before too long they had two children Terrell (1938) and Tom (1942). Horton joined the Navy soon after Pearl Harbor and Olive was left with their two small children to raise while he was at war for 4 years. At times the three of them were so bored and hot in the Phoenix summers with no air conditioning that they would simply get on the city bus and ride around with the windows open to try to stay cool and pass the time. Finally Horton come home and things got busy. Their last child, Catherine, was born in 1947. When Catherine was in first grade, Olive decided to return to teaching. (She had earlier taught P.E. in Douglas before marriage) She took a position as a fourth grade teacher at Grandview Elementary School in the Osborn School District and stayed there for almost 30 years. No child ever went through her class without listening to her read all of the Oz books and they no doubt entered the fifth grade with a much greater appreciation for literature.

Throughout her life, Olive loved her family, her bridge club friends, Sees candy and shopping. She was trim, well dressed, soft spoken and kind. She and Horton became grandparents, great grandparents, and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary (and beyond). In her later years, she greatly enjoyed taking trips to Wales and England and connecting with a few of her relatives who remained there.

In July, 1994 Horton died of colon cancer. Olive was sad and lonely without him and actually succumbed to the same disease 9 months later on April 18, 1995.