By Melissa Wagoner
Dr. Olwyn Davies practiced medicine in Silverton for 65 years, delivering an estimated 2,000 babies and becoming the sole primary care doctor for generations.
“He was my doctor in 1972,” Nan Fleck – a patient of Davies who later went on to become his office assistant – said. “And my husband was a patient when he was a little kid. He was just great.”
Born May 1, 1929, Davies didn’t set out to become a doctor.
“He was a terrible student,” Sheryl, Davies’ wife of 15 years, said. “He did horrible work.”
And yet, one of his teachers saw something in him that made her say, “You need to straighten up because you’re going to be a doctor.”
“She just saw a drive in him,” Sheryl speculated. And she was right.
Eventually becoming a graduate of Willamette University and the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU), Davies kicked off his medical career by working in army hospitals during the Korean War.
“He was a captain,” Sheryl said, recalling the serendipity that, after the war was over, led him to open a practice in Silverton. “When he got out of the Army, he had several places he looked but he came into Silverton and… he knew.”
A general practitioner, Davies, always dressed in a suit and tie, went out of his way to serve his patients.
“He’d be there before everybody else – usually before 7 a.m.” employee Jan Smith recalled. “And at times he’d leave at 8 p.m.”
“And he always said, there’s room for one more – always,” Sheryl said.
One of the last doctors to continue making house calls, Davies made his way to the bedside of many patients, black bag in hand.
“When [patients] heard him coming down the driveway they knew they were going to be OK,” Sheryl remembered. “He would say, ‘Better days are coming.’ That was his famous saying.”
Unwilling to even consider retirement, Davies continued working into his 90s, still seeing a full roster of patients with the help of his devoted staff.
“He was such a hoot to work for,” Smith said, recalling Davies’ childlike affection for donuts and balloons that made life in the office more fun. “I made the donut run every day and got his favorites, and since he loved balloons, for the three years I worked there I got him 91, 92, 93 balloons on his birthday.”
In 2020, Smith decided to do something grander for the boss she adored – she began lobbying for a mural.
“We sent 400 letters to raise money,” she remembered. “And in five weeks we had more than enough.”
Engaging the services of seasoned muralist Kali Dirks, Smith and Sheryl planned a party that would reveal their plan to an unsuspecting Davies.
“It was really emotional. We got him a cake that said, congratulations,” Smith recalled. “He literally cried.”
Davies did not live to see the mural completed. He passed away only one year later, on Oct. 29, 2021.
“He is so missed,” Sheryl said. “He was just the kind of doctor everyone wanted to have.”
Now, with the completion of the mural and its installation – on the west-facing wall of Silver Falls Family Dental Care, 214 Oak St., where Davies once practiced – Davies’ story will become a visable feature in Silverton’s downtown.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Smith said of the mural’s aesthetic – a collage of images featuring Davies throughout the years. It will be revealed to the public during a ceremony on Dec. 1, directly following the Silverton Tree Lighting at 7 p.m.
“And I’m going to get 65 balloons,” she said. One for every year of service.