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James Richard Davis

Died: February 1, 1982

Jim Davis was born in Indiana, raised in Arizona, and came to Yale in 1962. He was selected to participate in the intensive major of political science and economics, and made the Dean’s List twice. He lived in Davenport College, where he was active on the Armour Council. He also served on the Yale Prom Committee, was a member of Fence Club, and was tapped by the Wolf’s Head Society. Jim was a standout polo player, selected as captain of the Yale Polo Team his senior year.

Jim is remembered as having one of the keenest minds, quickest wits, and sharpest tongues we would know at Yale. He was a natural raconteur, graced with a colorful imagination and talented at creating and telling stories and humorous anecdotes. He could talk about almost anything, capturing his audience with a unique mix of satire, irony, and occasional vulgarity. Jim was also the source and master protagonist of innumerable practical jokes, which he delighted in inflicting on those around him, including his roommates and their dates.

Jim was loyal to his many friends and able to recognize and appreciate a person’s good qualities, but he was even more adept at observing and picking on a person’s fault lines. Thus, while most of us were taught, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, then don’t say anything,” by the time Jim arrived at Yale, the adage for him had become “If you can’t say anything truthful, then don’t say anything, and if what you have to say is truthful, then say it.” “Nice” was OK, but only when not false or obfuscating. More often there was a bite. It would not have been a surprise to anyone if Jim were to have become a talented stand-up comedian or essayist, targeting government and politicians in the genre of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin.

After Yale, Jim returned to Arizona. He passed away, cause unknown, on February 1, 1982.