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Gladys Davis, Celebrated Alexandria Librarian of Over 60 Years, Passes at 100

Gladys Howard Davis was 100 and served as an Alexandria, Virginia librarian and leader over 60 years. (Courtesy photo)
Gladys Howard Davis was 100 and served as an Alexandria, Virginia librarian and leader over 60 years. (Courtesy photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Gladys Howard Davis, who was born on June 7, 1921 and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, where she was one of ten children born to Ezekial and Elizabeth “Winnie” Pollard Howard, was a witness to history and significant changes in her hometown where she helped educate generations of Alexandrians during her 60-plus years of service to the Alexandria Library system. She passed away July 10, 2021.

Gladys attended Parker Gray Elementary School. She graduated from the Old Park-Gray High School, and continued her education at Tuskegee Institution, The National Institute of Practical Nurses in Washington, D.C., and Temple Business School.

Gladys began her working career in 1947 with Alexandria Library working at the then segregated Robert Robinson Branch Library (now the Black History Resource Center), until it closed in 1960. She was then assigned on the local Book Mobile followed by decades of service at the Kate Waller Barrett Queen Street Library. In 2000, Gladys transferred to Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library where she worked in the Children’s Department until she retired in April of 2008.

On February 13, 2007, Mayor William D. Euille and Alexandria City Council presented Gladys with a proclamation for her 60 years of service with the Alexandria Library. The proclamation acknowledges the years of service Gladys provided to the Alexandria Library, Alexandria City Public Schools, The Hopkins House, and her service to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Alexandria as treasurer and member of the choir.

In 2013, for Black History Month, Alexandria Library honored Gladys for her 60 years of service to the library, in which she witnessed much transformation during her tenure. During an interview with Rose Dawson, Alexandria Library Director, Gladys shared her experiences as a lifelong resident, growing up in Alexandria and the many historical events that occurred during the period of segregation. Gladys enjoyed sharing her memories of historical events pertaining to the library, in particular the Alexandria Library sit-in of 1939, acknowledging her personal connection with the men involved with the sit-in including the organizer Samuel W. Tucker.

Her husband, the late Robert E. Davis, preceded Gladys in death. Her siblings Hampton Howard, Hazel Howard, Margaret Poindexter, Zenetta Crockett, Mary H. Penn, Marion Howard Smith, Clifton Howard, and Evelyn Hopkins also preceded her in death.

She leaves one sister, Christine Howard, stepdaughter Hilda Davis, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and a host of other family members and friends.

A service is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 at 10 a.m. at Harvest Assembly Baptist Church, 8012 Fordson Road, Alexandria.  Masks are required for the service.

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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