Skip to content



Walter Sears Davison, Jr, 89 of Kirksville, Missouri, went home to his heavenly father on Friday, October 1, 2021, at the Knox County Nursing Home in Edina, Missouri, where he had been a residing following a stroke.

The son of Walter Sears and Mary Christina (Umbarger) Davison, he was born on October 3, 1931, in Gibbs, Missouri. He was the youngest of six children, four of whom preceded him in death; Faye (Elmer) Perry of Wichita, KS; Margaret (Chris) Christianson of Colorado Springs, CO; Rosalee (Carl) Coy of Kirksville, MO; and Thomas (Velda) Davison of Columbia, MO. On May 26, 1962, he was united in marriage to Ellen Margaret Kirkpatrick, and she preceded him in death on January 11, 2000.

Walter was raised on the family farm east of Millard, MO attending one room schools at Millard and Prairie View before graduating from Kirksville Senior High School in 1949. Walter went on to graduate from the University of Missouri earning two bachelor’s degrees in Agriculture (1957) and Engineering (1959). In addition to farming, he was a registered professional engineer and dedicated civil servant throughout his working life. He served in the U.S. Army, Missouri National Guard, and the Army Reserve. His military credits included basic training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and Guided Missile Serviceman School at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. During 1954, he was also a crewman in the first underground Nike missile system at White Sands Proving Grounds in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Walter’s career as a civil engineer began as a land surveyor. He worked throughout Northeast Missouri for the US Agriculture and Soil Conservation Service, then later advanced into public service. He was City Engineer and Public Works Director for the city of Clinton, Missouri from 1973-78 ultimately retiring as the Public Works Director for the city of Kirksville in 1995. During his tenure, Walter became the co-namesake for the D-squared award, the highest award given to outstanding engineers by the Missouri Chapter of the American Public Works association. He enjoyed many years of APWA activities and while with the Missouri Chapter, served in various leadership roles, including president, from 1979-1981.

Upon his retirement, Walter’s time was full of volunteerism and giving back to the community through the causes he loved: the Adair County Historical Society, the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, and the local chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and American Legion. He was an avid genealogist and family archivist, contributing to countless family histories beyond his own, as well as authoring “Thomas Caldwell Davison, A Book on Genealogy.” At family reunions and get-togethers, Walter could be relied upon to bring photos, news clippings, and lots of interesting tidbits about the family history to share.

Walter was also a member of the First United Methodist Church in Kirksville. His was a quiet faith expressed through a patient and generous love for his family and concern for his friends. He was a truly loving father who exemplified and earned respect in all his actions. The memories he created through his service, family road trips, working the farm, playing music, and spending time in the community will forever be cherished by those who knew and loved him.

Walter is survived by one sister, Mary Lou (Jerry) Slawson, of LaPlata, MO; his children John (Lois) Davison and Jane Davison; four granddaughters, Emily (David) Hyland, Meggan (Adam) Henry, Indyanna Louder, and Haven Louder; three great-grandchildren, Hannah and Ben Hyland of Belfast Ireland, and Isaac Henry of Kirksville, Missouri; and several nieces and nephews with whom he loved to talk and laugh.

Walter leaves behind his wife of 10 years, and loving companion, Reta Glasgow Davison of Edina, Missouri. Together, they shared the twilight years, enjoying many happy times with family and friends in the area. They loved to dance, tour garage sales, and listen to country music.

The funeral service will be held Monday, October 4 at 11:00 am at Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home in Kirksville. Visitation with the family will begin one hour prior at 10:00 am. Guests are respectfully asked to wear masks.

Memorials are suggested to the Adair County Historical Society in lieu of gifts or flowers. Arrangements are in the care of Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home.