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Obituary of Joel Calvin Davis
Joel Calvin Davis, a 40-year member of the Seattle Men’s Chorus and a founding member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, died of kidney cancer at his home in Seattle, Washington, on December 23, 2023. He was 69.
Joel was born July 7, 1954, to Leonard Davis and Sandra Irene Calvin Davis of Los Angeles. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State University in 1976, and later received an Associate of Applied Science degree in interpreter training from Seattle Central Community College.
Joel worked as an American Sign Language interpreter in Seattle and the surrounding area for 40 years and was exceptionally proud of his work and enjoyed the camaraderie he had with the interpreting agencies, his colleagues, and his clients.
In addition to his career as an American Sign Language Interpreter, Joel was an avid archivist for the Seattle Men’s Chorus, the Seattle Women’s Chorus, and the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA), an international association of LGBT choruses founded in 1982. In 2015, he accompanied the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus on its performance tour to the Middle East because he wanted to travel to Israel with a gay chorus.
Robin Godfrey, executive director of GALA Choruses, said, “Joel was one of the first singers I met when I began work with GALA in 2007, and he was honored with a Legacy Award for his services to GALA Choruses and the LGBTQ choral movement. He will be greatly missed.”
Joel was an avid supporter of the Seattle choruses. He received SMC's Ruby Slipper Award in 2007 for service to the organization, and told his story at the chorus' Disney Pride concert this past June. When he recently entered home hospice care, many SMC members visited and sang to him. He was posthumously given his 40-year award at SMC's recent Christmas concert.
Craig Coogan, executive director of SMC, said, “Joel was a pillar for our organization. May light perpetual shine upon him.”
Joel’s husband, Shawn Holman, said, “I am grateful for the 18 years I had with him, and for the 40 years he had with the chorus. It was such an important part of his life. He loved the chorus more than anything.”
Joel is survived by his husband, Shawn Holman; brothers, Ernie Davis and Larry Davis; and his sister, Anita Lebby.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, January 14, 2024, 1:00 p.m. at Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 ne 4th St., Bellevue, WA 98008.
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