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Marathoner, 'quiet leader' Davis passes away

Photo by Steve Schulz The family of Shelly Davis planted the first tree in Wadena's Tapley Park since the tornado hit June 17. Pictured are her son, Ryan Davis; daughter, Rachel Davis; daughter, Jessica Davis; father, Doug Beisell; niece, Alliyah Beisell; Jessica's boyfriend, Erik Davis; niece, Reina Beisell; and mother, Sharlene Beisell.

Sheila "Shelly" Davis will always be remembered as a great athlete, coach, friend and personality by her friends in Wadena.

Davis ran in 13 marathon races during more than 20 years she lived in Wadena. Davis ran Grandma's Marathon a couple of times and even the prestigious Boston Marathon. She was always in training for a race.

One of people who knew Davis best was Wadena-Deer Creek school board chairwoman Ann Pate. Their families moved to Wadena at the same time and their children became friends.

"Shelly was just a dynamic, compassionate person," Pate said.

Davis contracted a form of leukemia but surprised the hospital staff in Rochester with her fighting spirit. She spent more than 10 weeks in the hospital before she died July 16 at the age of 50.

"The people at Mayo (Clinic) called her 'that woman athlete,'" said Pate.

Wadena-Deer Creek varsity volleyball coach Sue Volkmann saw the kind of support Davis gave people as a coach, a parent and a friend. Davis coached the WDC junior high girls' volleyball team for several years. Her daughters, Jessica and Rachel, were exceptional volleyball players and when they pushed on to the varsity she resigned her coaching job to follow their activities as a spectator.

"She would do anything and she always asked if she could do more," Volkmann said. "She was just so motivated in whatever she did. She always went 100 miles per hour."

Wadena mayor Wayne Wolden likes to remember a story about Davis that took place in the summer of 2009. One of her dogs killed a Peking duck at the Bark Park in Wadena and a little girl was an eye witness. Davis contacted the city police to help her locate the girl so she could send her a note of apology and condolence.

Wolden was impressed with the tremendous energy Davis showed and praised her as one of the "behind the scenes" people who do not expect any credit.

"Wadena is really going to be missing one of its quiet leaders," Wolden said.