Community mourns Darryl Davis
ARLINGTON — One building wasn't enough to contain the love for Darryl Davis.
So many people came to pay their respects at a celebration of life for Davis on Monday at the Federated Church of East Arlington that the church soon became standing-room-only. Others stood in an adjoining hall.
Davis, 58, died Jan. 29 from injuries she sustained that day in a two-car crash on Route 11 in Londonderry.
Family and friends who spoke remembered her as an endless fountain of love, who enjoyed nothing more than showering her love on friends, family, strangers and the 42 children she fostered over the years.
"I invite you to take a look around, and invite you to feel the love in this place," the Rev. Kathy Clark, pastor of the Federated Church of East Arlington, said to the gathering.
The day, she said, was about Davis — a "remarkable woman whose too-short earthly life" was lived in service to others.
While writing an email response to someone about Davis on Sunday, Clark said, she found herself changing one word of the communication.
"I changed how I referred to all of us," she said of those who are mourning Davis. "From those who 'loved' Darryl to those who 'love' Darryl. I realized that the past tense doesn't work."
Those who love her still have that deep, aching love in the here and now, she said.
"That's because Darryl embodied love," she said. "She selflessly poured it out onto the 42 children she was so committed to fostering."
Family and friends of Davis spoke about this special love Davis had, and how it touched their lives and changed them.
Clark read a letter from one of Davis' former foster children, who now lives in Utah. The writer described how Davis never introduced her as anything other than her daughter, and how she was welcomed into Davis' family.
"She saved my life," the letter states. "Mama D was the mother I never had. The world is going to be a sad place without her."
Davis was born in Teaneck, New Jersey on Nov. 12, 1960.
She worked for Bayada, the home health agency, and at the Talbots outlet in Manchester. She also previously operated Curves of Manchester, and had also worked for West Mountain Inn in Arlington.
She was also a member of the Northshire Interfaith Council and the Federated Church of East Arlington.
Davis' siblings spoke about how her love influenced their family, tying them all together.
Troy Hermansky, one of Davis' brothers, described how he recently learned how many children Davis had
"That's a pretty big number, but it didn't come as a surprise to us," he said. He described the typical sibling struggles with Davis growing up — he never got to choose the TV channel to watch, and always got the smaller piece of cake.
But in the end, the two always had each other's backs.
"In our family, Darryl was like the glue that held our family together," he said. "Crazy glue," he added, to laughs from those in attendance.
"Imagining my life without her is honestly scary," he said.
Davis' sister, Kim Ferguson, read two poems, one for Davis' children, titled "A Mother's Heart."
"She was one heck of a sister," she said.
Jeff Hermansky, Davis' older brother, described how deep Davis' love for children lasted in their lives — children she cared for from 35 years ago still came to visit her.
"That's the impact she made," he said.
He told the audience about the time his wife, who is Russian, and his daughter were coming to Vermont to see Davis for the first time.
Davis prepared a birthday party for his daughter. "She had a birthday party for a child she'd never seen, and a sister-in-law she'd never met," he said.
One man who worked with Davis at the West Mountain Inn years ago remembered their first meeting when he was a new chef at the inn.
"Her eyes were so bright and smiling," he said. "Like I had known her forever."
Davis also introduced him to another woman who worked at the inn, who would later become his wife.
Davis' daughter, Nichole Hammond, thanked those in attendance for being there.
"There's nothing I can say about my mom that you don't already know, which is why you're here," she said.
Hammond said she's sure there were times in her life as a child when she wasn't kind to her mother, but she never gave her anything but love.
"I never had to question one day of my life, how much my mother loved me," she said. "And I'm really grateful for that."
David Bentley described, through an audio recording he made, the 2 years of friendship he had with Davis, sharing "unbelievable adventures," fun and music with her — specifically Neil Diamond and John Denver.
"I know you're finally with Rod," he said on the recording, referring to Davis' husband, who died in a car crash in Brandon in July 2009. "I love you, Darryl peace be with you."
Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.
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