Carole McReynolds Davis is pictured on her Starkville porch in this 2009 Dispatch file photo. Photo by: Dispatch file photo
June 19, 2014 11:07:22 AM
Local artist Carole Elizabeth McReynolds Davis, 72, a well-known figure known for her paintings of local figures, her iconic Louisville Street home, her boisterous style of dress and exuberant support of her lifelong home of Starkville, died of natural causes Wednesday.
Davis is survived by her husband, Frank, and her children and grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements with Welch Funeral Home were not yet scheduled as of press time this morning.
Davis, a 1964 graduate of Mississippi State University, was also a columnist with Starkville Daily News. There, she wrote about the individuals and scenes whom she had painted across the years, ensuring local folklore would continue to be a topic within the community.
She and Frank, who previously served as a Starkville alderman, were major supporters of Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center and actively canvassed the county for signatures against a potential sale or lease of the county-owned facility when a potential transaction became a talking point among some county supervisors.
Numerous residents took to social media Wednesday shortly after learning of her death. Many agreed that Starkville lost one of its biggest supporters with Davis' passing.
"Giving thanks today for the life of my friend Carole McReynolds Davis, a true original with a heart of gold and a love for this community that is unparalleled," wrote former SDN editor Brian Hawkins on Facebook.
"You were like a mother to me," tweeted William "Brother" Rogers, a Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership member, Wednesday. "You were like a mother to me. I'll never forget you. I love you, always."
Davis was also an integral part of planning Starkville's 175th birthday celebration and was a treasure trove of history and stories about the community. Davis' great-grandfather built the Louisville Street home she lovingly restored and proudly occupied, a home that she proudly noted was on the National Registry of Historic Homes.
Her sweeping front porch became the backdrop for numerous mannequins in seasonal, festive or patriotic attire, and each had its own name. Starkville's profile was elevated years ago when college students briefly kidnapped one of her mannequins and the story made national rounds.
"Carole loved Starkville as fiercely as anyone could, and she was so proud of her family's heritage. She gave to the community through her time, and her amazing artistic ability and her colorful, vibrant personality has been part of what our community is for decades," Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said. "Her positivity and unmatchable character will not be forgotten."
"Carole was a Starkville icon. She touched the lives of many people with her warm, good-hearted spirit and her beautiful works of art that described our community in a way that no one else could," said mayor Parker Wiseman.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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