Vignettes about Events & People


Edith Joyce Davis served the college for more than 30 years as director of physical ed & dance.

Edith Joyce Davis

Edith Joyce Davis is a legend in Arkansas City. She’s so much a part of the community’s history, that generation upon generation either knew her personally or had heard of her impact on the lives of countless Arkansas City youth.


Davis was a director of physical education and dance at Arkansas City Junior College for more than 30 years.

She was born on Oct. 29, 1887, in West Bolton Township, the daughter of Joice Ann Morris-Davis and James Young Davis. The family moved to 415 N. Second St. in Arkansas City when Edith was six weeks old. She resided there until her death. She graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1906, and later attended Baker University. After several years there, she returned to Arkansas City when her father suffered a stroke.


She received a bachelor of science degree from the State Teachers College of Emporia, and was given an honorary degree from Baker University on Jan. 28, 1992, in a ceremony at Cowley. She took graduate school hours from the University of Wisconsin.


Her earliest ambition was to become a singer. She satisfied her ambition by taking part in oratorios and operas in college.


She always was interested in athletics. She was a member of the first girls’ basketball team in Arkansas City. She taught physical education in Arkansas City schools from 1915 until she retired in 1957. She held the distinction of teaching at each of the elementary schools as well as the junior high (middle school) boys and girls classes. She also taught an elective class of physical education for girls in the high school for many years, until she became the PE instructor at ACHS and at ACJC. She taught PE for two summers at the University of Arkansas in the late 1920s. At one time, she taught swimming lessons at the request of the American Red Cross at a pool north and east of Arkansas City.


Davis loved Arkansas City and its people. She remembered her former students, naming each one of their skills many years after they were her pupils. She was particularly proud of her part in promoting tennis courts at Wilson Park, which required considerable effort to overcome resistance to cutting down a tree for the first courts. She was instrumental in organizing and starting Girl Scouts in the Arkansas City area. She was active in the Arkalalah programs from their inception in 1928 until her retirement. She worked long and hard on the dances, pageants and other phases of the Arkalalah celebration. She also served as secretary of the Arkansas City Planning Board for two years.


Many years ago, Davis arranged May Fetes in Wilson Park with the local music and physical education departments. These included May Pole dances and music concerts. On March 7, 1994, she was presented the Harry Long Award by The Salvation Army for her lifelong work and service to the community. She would always say to her PE students, "Be sure to stand tall."


Davis was 108 years old when she died on Dec. 19, 1995.

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