Richard (Rick) H. Davis
Richard (Rick) Hall Davis, 64, died on Sept. 7, 2015 at his home in Temple, NH, surrounded by his loving family, after a year-long battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer).
He was born on November 10, 1950, in Omaha, NE, to Hartwell and Nancy (Richards) Davis. Raised in White Plains, NY and Reston, VA, he graduated from White Plains High School in 1969, and in 1974 he earned dual BA degrees in Psychology and Philosophy from Allegheny College. He then attended Ringling Brothers Clown College and began a career as a circus clown with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus where he worked for 4 seasons.
Following a contract with Circus Odyssey in Puerto Rico, Rick became inspired to travel to developing countries to give free clown performances to any organization willing to feed and house him. His "search for the comic denominator," which was supported by the Peace Corps and by Project Troubador, took him to villages, orphanages, and refugee camps in 15 countries including Brazil, Honduras, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, St. Vincent, the Dominican Republic, and China. A veteran entertainer, he also performed at the 1982 World’s Fair, Radio City Music Hall, the White House, Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center, and First Nights across New England. He has appeared in numerous operas (notably Gilbert and Sullivan) with Raylynmor Opera. Rick (also known as the Professor of Totally Useless Skills) taught an abundance of fun tricks and stunts that were the subjects of two books, Totally Useless Skills and Totally Useless Office Skills. Rick also developed websites and created SchoolShows. com, an online directory connecting schools with educational assembly programs to provide children with educational enrichment.
Teaching circus arts to youth was Rick’s cause and passion. He felt one of the most important things he did with his life was to help found the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) which is dedicated to teaching circus arts to young people. He served on AYCO’s board of directors from its inception in 1999 until his death, and he was instrumental in keeping AYCO going in its early years. He and his wife Jackie also founded CircusLearning LLC, a southern NH organization offering youth-centered circus arts through its programs, Silver Lining Circus Camp and Flying Gravity Circus. Rick was also passionate about his work with Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s award-winning youth circus company. For 12 years Rick was a Smirkus Artist-in- Residence who spent the academic year traveling to elementary schools throughout New England, teaching circus skills and producing student circus performances. He was the director of the Smirkus School Residency Program for many years.
He enjoyed playing Celtic harp and competed annually at the New Hampshire Scottish Highland Games. He loved reading, cooking, canoeing, and being a devoted husband and dad. He was a long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford and the Souhegan Lions Club.
Rick is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jacqueline Leigh (Eppes) Davis; and his daughters, Erin Evelyn Davis of Ipswich, MA, Ellen Margaret Davis of Temple, NH, and Raya Golden Alexander Davis of Santa Fe, NM. He is also survived by his mother, Nancy R. Davis of Reston, VA; siblings William Hartwell Davis of Reston, VA, Margaret Lynn Davis of Middlebrook, VA, Roger Langdon Davis of Gloucester, MA, James Palmer Davis of Christ Church, New Zealand, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial celebration of Rick’s life will be held on Saturday, November 14, at 3:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford, 20 Elm Street, Milford NH, followed by a community potluck dinner and an evening of music and dancing. Interment will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, Rick has requested that memorial donations be sent to the American Youth Circus Organization (www.american youthcircus.org), PO Box 482, Ithaca, NY 14851.