Jean Davis (1932-2011)

by Shawna Lewis


“I thought she was the most exotic woman in the world,” Henson remembers. “She was certainly the most exotic woman in Sapulpa. She was intelligent and passionate and always wore a scarf and big earrings.”

Jean Davis taught Spanish and Journalism at Sapulpa High School for 20 years, during which she was published in educational journals, coached students in Spanish language competitions, and took classes to Mexico for cultural education—a country she was particularly passionate about.

“I could easily say that she was responsible for my being a Spanish professor,” said George Henson of University of Texas at Dallas. “I would not describe her as a teacher. She was an academic mentor.”

Henson remembers Davis as a woman who was never afraid to speak her mind, even amidst 1970s racial tension. He started a Facebook fan page, where former students have flocked to share similar memories of their bold high school teacher.

Gregory Washburn shares, “Before leaving for Mexico, she had received a last minute phone call from frantic parents who were teetering on whether to send their child to Mexico. They got straight to the point. “You know,” Washburn wrote, “THEY (Mexicans) killed two Americans in Mexico City last week.”

Undaunted, Señora retorted, “You know,” lifting her eyebrows in her characteristic way, “THEY (Americans) killed two Americans in Tulsa last night.”

Davis showed off her resolute strength during the 1984 Tulsa flood, when she woke up to an overflowing house, and had to swim out in her underwear to survive.

“Years later, I visited her at her new home,” Henson said. “I noticed that it was on a hill, and she told me with a smirk, ‘I’m never going to have to swim.’”