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James Davidson

James Davidson Obituary
DAVIDSON, James James Narl Davidson, (79), Ph.D., passed December 12 after living with Alzheimer's Disease for eight years. He was born in Dallas, Texas, the son of John Narl and Eugenia Phillips Davidson. He leaves behind a loving family who will keep a place in their hearts for him always: his wife of 37 years, Edi Guyton, whom he called "the love of his life;" five children; his sons and his daughters in law, James M. Davidson and Amy Galloway, Philip and Katie Davidson, and Peter and Tracy Davidson; his stepdaughter, Gabrielle Guyton-Edmiston; and his stepdaughter and son in law, McCall and Chris Butler. He also had four beloved grandchildren, Megan Davidson, Matthew Davidson, Meredith Butler, and Vivian Davidson. Recently brought into the family by love were Peter's stepdaughters, Helen White and Anna White, and Megan's fianc?, Evan Class. Narl's two brothers, Les Davidson of Jackson, Wyoming and Clif Davidson of Grand Rapids, Michigan also will miss him deeply, as will Edi's four siblings and their families and many nephews and nieces. Narl was happiest when he was surrounded by family. Narl graduated from Cornell University with an undergraduate degree in engineering physics. He then earned an M. Sc. and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan. He was on faculty at Texas A&M for a few years, where he was honored in 1973 with the Texas A&M University Student Engineering Council Outstanding Teacher Award. Narl spent the rest of his career at Georgia Tech, where he served in the Nuclear Engineering Department and was Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. Narl loved Tech, especially teaching and his students. He won another teaching award at Georgia Tech and was honored by students in the ANAK Society, a group whose purpose is to recognize outstanding members of the Georgia Institute of Technology community for their strong character, leadership ability, and true love for the school. He also received Engineer of the Year in Education, 1988 from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Atlanta Section). In addition to being a skilled educator, Narl was a very capable administrator and served as interim Dean of the College of Engineering three times. At his retirement in 2008, the College of Engineering conference room was named for him. After retirement, Narl continued to serve Tech until 2013 as a part-time Ombudsman for students and faculty. Narl was committed to social justice and was an advocate for women. In recognition of these characteristics, he received the Good Guy award from the Women's Political Caucus. This award honors men from all backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of women's rights and gender equality. Throughout his life, Narl was a lover of music with eclectic tastes that ran from Vivaldi and Beethoven to Creedence Clearwater Revival to R.E.M. to Tupac Shakur. And his intelligence served him well even beyond the walls of academia. His family still talks about the time Narl won a game of Trivial Pursuit on his first turn. Everyone else had a chance to try to match the feat but they didn't stand a chance. In retirement, among Narl's favorite activities were piloting small planes, bicycling and volunteering in the kitchen at The Friendship Center at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. During vacations in Garden City Beach, SC, he was always in the ocean body surfing with his sons and wife. He and Edi also loved to travel and explore the world from Kenya to the Galapagos Islands and many places in between. In spite of Alzheimer's, Narl stayed active until nearly the end of his life; he took a river boat cruise in France just one year ago and last biked and surfed in June. And he may have forgotten the names of birds, but he never grew tired of watching them. Narl's curiosity about the world led him into many adventures, too numerous to list. For more than ten years, Narl walked his dog(s) every day. At first a very reluctant dog person, Narl was wrapped around the paw of his first dog, Charlie in under a minute. From then on, Narl never met a dog he didn't like and want to pet. And his dogs were dedicated to him: Bo Berry followed him everywhere, and Winnie lay at his feet as he was dying. The family would like to recognize the extraordinary care and love given to Narl by honorary family member AnnMarie Austin. We also extend deep appreciation to the Integrated Memory Care Clinic at Emory and its staff, who were with Narl and Edi throughout the AD journey. We were not with Longleaf Hospice very long, but they gave us so much in that short time. If you wish to honor Narl's memory, in lieu of flowers, you may give to the of Georgia, to The Friendship Center at Holy Comforter in Atlanta, or to a . A memorial service for Narl will be held in January 2020. Family and friends will remember Narl for his unconditional love, his kindness, his zest for life, and his deep knowledge of almost everything. We will miss you, Narl Davidson.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Dec. 15, 2019
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