Daniel E. Davis ’94
Dan Davis – yeast wrangler, rum distiller extraordinaire, harbormaster, gourmet cook, house and boat builder, musician, Liberal Cup denizen, perpetually mustachioed man with an infectious laugh, and loving husband, son, father, and brother – died in Cumberland on February 20, 2023. He was 57.
Born in Portland in 1965, Dan had an early interest in computers, before they were cool, and an insatiable curiosity for how everything worked, a drive that lasted throughout his life. He loved learning new things, and figuring out how to always keep busy. He learned deeply, the same way he loved his family.
Upon graduating from Windham High School in 1983, Dan enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving four years before attending Maine Maritime Academy and graduating with a degree in thermal engineering. Dan later went to Massachusetts Maritime Academy receiving a master’s in emergency management, a degree he pursued alongside his wife Kara.
Dan’s journey soon led to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in the division handling hazardous materials emergencies, an ideal place for a perfectionist focused on critical details. There he met his soulmate Kara Tudman Walker. The two got married in 2014 on the Hallowell Pavilion and proceeded that night to lead enthusiastic family members, friends, and strangers that became friends on a memorable pub crawl through the streets of Hallowell.
Often joined by Kara and their son Devin, Dan was a man about Hallowell, listening to local musicians, and regaling the regulars at the Liberal Cup with scarcely believable tales. More often ‘Pops’ was crafting gourmet meals for friends and family, assembling Legos and teaching all ‘shed things’ to Devin, tackling home improvement projects, teaching Devin the finer points of playing golf, and lending a hand and spreading joy throughout his tightknit ‘hood, and far beyond. He loved staying busy, and his greatest joy was in supporting Kara and Devin in their passions and dreams.
Dan served on the board of the Hallowell Water District and as Harbormaster for more than a decade. Not surprisingly, his commitment to the community had a distinctly fun and slightly irreverent side as well. In 2018 he and his friends formed MOGA, the Maine Orange Growers Association (motto: “Global warming/climate change is happening! Let’s embrace it! Grow oranges!”) – and the bright orange MOGA marchers won awards at several Old Hallowell Day Parades with Dan’s creative ideas and artistic style. He was also a founding member of the Hallowell Bourbon Council.
In recent years Dan’s entrepreneurial spirit, love of science, and appreciation for adult beverages came together at his Sebago Lake Distillery in Gardiner, so named to celebrate a special place in Dan’s heart since he was a child. Every summer, he returned to his family camp at big Sebago Lake with Kara and Devin, to enjoy amazing sunrises, and raucous swims off his custom-built float with a diving board which complemented the otherwise quiet serenity. Kara and Dan enjoyed many moments sipping one of Dan’s flavorful creations, looking over the vastness of the beautiful lake, feeling blessed to have found each other and sharing time in such a beautiful place.
Dan’s spirit, energy, generosity, imagination, love, and loyalty will be missed by all. He had a knack for leaving a mark with everyone lucky enough to spend time with him. Those fortunate enough to enjoy one of Devin’s future culinary creations will quickly be reminded that Dan may have left us too soon, but he will never be forgotten.
In addition to Kara and Devin, Dan is survived by his mother Erla Davis and her husband Gary Itzstein, his father Ted Davis, his brother Earle and his wife Cyndi, his in-laws Gail and David Tudman and their sons, and many relatives and friends who will forever miss his kindness, sense of fun, and devotion to his family and friends that became his family.
Visiting hours will be on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at The Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta and friends can stop in between 1 and 4 pm. A celebration of life and pub crawl will be held in the summer in Hallowell.