Dwight Andrew Davis passed away on Monday, May 11, 2020 at the age of 87 after a hospitalization at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. He can now rejoin his wife of over 66 years, Arlene Caroline Davis, who died on March 1.
Dwight was born in Island Pond, Vermont on September 29, 1932, one of three children born to Olga and Crawford Davis. He moved to East Burke in 1935, where he recalled growing up during the World War II era saying “East Burke was the greatest place a kid could ever live.” In 1946, he entered Lyndon Institute (LI) where he met his high school sweetheart, Arlene, who he would marry in 1953.
A four-year scholarship at Norwich University launched Dwight’s distinguished 22-year career in the United States Army. The young couple left the Northeast Kingdom for Fort Knox in 1955, and would move 17 more times across the U.S. and Europe with their children: Faye, Paula and Michael. Dwight attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California where he learned Arabic and was subsequently sent to Saudi Arabia as an advisor to the Royal Saudi Armor Corp in the early 1960s. He was stationed in Naples, Italy beginning in 1966, where he worked as an Operations Officer at NATO Headquarters. From there, he was deployed to Vietnam where he served as an advisor for a Vietnamese battalion during the Tet Offensive. He served on the faculty at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth from 1970-1972, before becoming the Commanding Officer of the 5th Battalion 2nd Brigade in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His final post was the Pentagon, as Operations Officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief where he supported efforts to evacuate personnel from Saigon, including Operation Babylift. Dwight met several of these refugees by chance in later life and their subsequent successes were always fondly remembered. Dwight received numerous commendations while serving his country, including the Silver Star with Cross of Gallantry, Bronze Star Medal, and Distinguished Flying Cross.
After retiring from the Army in 1976, Dwight returned to Vermont and over the next five years obtained a master’s degree and served as a guidance counselor and vocational director at Lyndon Institute. While considering a doctoral degree program at Boston University (BU) he was offered the Operations Director position for BU’s overseas graduate programs. Arlene would also work for BU recruiting undergraduate students for the Boston campus. The couple headed to Europe once more where their work would keep them traveling for the next seven years.
On their return in 1988, Dwight was recruited as the first Development Director for Lyndon Institute and he was appointed Headmaster six months later. He continued to pursue development opportunities for the school and led a capital campaign at the same time. The LI campus underwent significant expansion during his tenure in the 1990’s as enrollment increased, adding much-needed classroom and administrative office space, and a new softball field. A new academic building, Daniels Hall, was constructed to house the math department. Dwight expanded and diversified the vocational programs, working with local businesses to increase mentorships and employment opportunities for graduates. The international dormitory program was also expanded. While at LI, Dwight was inducted into the Who’s Who of Executives for the State of Vermont, and in 1996 he received the Robert F. Pierce Vermont Secondary Principal of the Year Award. He retired as Headmaster in 1999, but continued to serve his alma mater in several capacities, including Lyndon Institute Corporator and President of the Lyndon Institute Alumni Association of which he was a life member. Dwight’s ever-true Viking spirit carried on whether visiting with students, faculty, staff and community members or being spotted at the games played on LI’s home field. A long-time faculty member recalls him saying “We wear maroon and white not just on our sleeves, but in our hearts.” A frequent sighting was in box seats at Thompson Cottage, home of the Alumni Association and the LI Museum, where Arlene spent considerable time organizing decades of school historical information.
After retiring from LI, Dwight served as the first-ever Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools’ Association, a position he held during the administration of Governor Jim Douglas. As Executive Director he laid the groundwork for the organization, which lobbies in support of the State’s extensive private schools. His work with the Douglas administration included building a high school program to assist adult inmates by providing risk-reducing interventions within the Vermont Department of Corrections. His leadership was instrumental in the successful accreditation process for what is known as Community High School of Vermont (CHSVT) that maintains campuses throughout the State system. He served on the CHSVT Board until 2011 and was ultimately honored for his service, ability to tackle political issues head on, and his unwavering tenacity and love for the school and its students. Dwight fully retired from volunteer board positions, including the Union Bank Regional Board, in 2013.
Recent years afforded Dwight more time to spend at their much-loved stone home in East Burke where he tended his trout pond, spoiled their Jack Russell terriers, and enjoyed unrivaled views of Burke Mountain over the breakfast table. Dwight made time for target and skeet shooting at his camp in Kirby and occasionally fly fishing. He and Arlene especially loved times when family gathered to watch old family movies and reminisce about their world adventures.
Dwight is survived by daughters Faye Winters, of Brandon, MS, and Paula Gabrault, of Cosby, MO; son Michael Davis, of Westport, MA; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren; brother Jack Davis, of East Burke, VT; and younger sister Jean Bailey, of Newark, VT.
A family joint burial service will take place on June 22, 2020. The Guibord-Pearsons Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. Memories and condolences can be shared at firstname.lastname@example.org. The family welcomes donations to Lyndon Institute as an expression of sympathy instead of flowers, where a classroom will be named in Dwight's honor. Gifts in remembrance of Dwight may be sent to: Lyndon Institute Development Office, PO Box 127, Lyndon Center, VT 05850
Lyndon Institute Development Department
PO Box 127, Lyndon Center VT 05850