2004 Distinguished Service Award
John M. “Milt” Davidson ’33
John Milton “Milt” Davidson played football in a leather helmet with no face guard. He was a two-way tackle in Dickinson’s last football game against Penn State, a 10-6 Red Devils’ victory won on the road on a windy Oct. 17, 1931. It was far from the last victory that Davidson would help to achieve for his alma mater.
Davidson played basketball at Dickinson, too, and was captain of the track team. He sang in the Men’s Glee Club and filled his college years with Sigma Chi fraternal activ-ity even as he pursued a double major in chemistry and mathematics.
Years later, upon his 1971 induction into the Dickinson Sports Hall of Fame, he wrote about something deep in his heart, his “warm glow about Dickinson.”
More than 93 years since his birth on Christmas Day 1910, Davidson, a father of five and grandfather of six, still feels that undying warmth for his college.
He has passed it on. Working diligently over decades to gather support for Dickinson and to help strengthen a tradition of alumni giving, Davidson has served nearly half his life as a member of the college’s board of trustees, on which he is a member emeritus. He served as chairman of the successful annual giving program from 1953 to 1958 and continues to serve as class chairman. He also served on the college’s alumni council from 1933 to 1936 and from 1948 to 1951.
His family roots on campus run deep. Robert Davidson, the college’s second president, was his great-grandfather’s brother. Davidson’s older brother Robert Davidson ’31 was named after Robert Laurenson Dashiell, the college’s president from 1868 to 1872 and Davidson’s mother’s uncle. Dickinson is “on both sides of my family,” Davidson says proudly.
He earned his master’s degree in education at Temple University in 1938 and was a high-school teacher (chemistry and mathematics) and football coach in New Jersey for seven years. Then he capitalized on his undergraduate education in chemistry by going to work in 1940 as a salesman for the T. A. Edison chemical company.
World War II interrupted Davidson’s budding second career. The Dover, Del., native served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific theater, attaining the rank of commander, then in 1946 he began a long and successful career with Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Co., later known as Pennsalt Chemicals Corp. then Pennwalt Corp., in Philadelphia. He joined the company as a salesman, became district manager in 1950, then served as division manager from 1955 to 1965. He was the company’s manager of employee development from 1965 until 1975, when he retired to become a sales and management consultant.
At Dickinson, Davidson was a senior class officer and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, an academic honorary society. He was active in Raven’s Claw and D Club. He enjoys hunting, camping, writing, gardening and counseling. And he still carries a fine tune for the Main Liners Barbershop Quartet Chorus.
He and his wife of 64 years, Jane Steelman Davidson, live in Audubon, Pa., in Montgomery County. They are the parents of Jodee Davidson, Juliann Davidson Chusid ’70, Janette Davidson, John Davidson and Jay Davidson.
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