Richard Lawrence Davidson

Date of Birth

July 19, 1947

Date of Death

December 19, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara, CA

Richard Lawrence “Dick” Davidson

Considered a “Golden Boy” at Taft High School, serving as senior class president, captain of the football team, a member of the Ephebian Society, and an accomplished baseball player, he received many football awards, including all Los Angeles City and San Fernando Valley recognition. His athletic prowess led to seven full scholarship considerations, including one to the US Naval Academy. He selected UCLA and played with the Heisman winner Gary Beban under coach Tommy Prothro.

While at UCLA, Dick had been inspired by the philosophy of legendary basketball coach John Wooden. Dick’s knowledge of football, baseball, and basketball plus his love and patience with children and young adults gave him great joy and fulfillment and allowed him to be the same type of heartfelt coach as Wooden. Dick became a beloved teacher and coach for Meadow Oaks School, Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) and an Assistant Coach for Taft High and North Lake Tahoe High. Dick also coached numerous Little League and basketball teams while his boys were growing up in Goleta. A memorable advantage for the kids playing for him was to get pizza delivered after the games from his Isla Vista restaurant, Giovannis. Dick’s work ethic served him well through three restaurant ownerships and 17 years as a school administrator.

Dick’s last employment at SBMS became his passion and “There is nowhere I would rather be” was his mantra. One of the sayings at SBMS was, “Go with gratitude,” which Dick constantly exemplified. The school is based on mythological principles and in Joseph Campbell’s words, Dick had found his “bliss” to follow. One of Dick’s strongest traits was his humility. Although greatly accomplished he never had the need to flaunt his success. He was confident yet humble. He was a kind and greatly respected father, husband, friend, business partner, teacher, coach, and school administrator.

Dick and wife Susan first met in an 8th grade science class, began dating at 16 and married 6 years later in 1970. Their initial shared interests were camping and backpacking in the Eastern Sierras. After a vigorous hike, they spent the second night of their honeymoon at the top of Yosemite Falls. They extended their honeymoon by camping across the United States in their paisley curtained “Old Blue” van. Dick and Susan moved to Tahoe City in 1975 and within four years had two children, two restaurants, and built their first home at the edge of the Tahoe National Forest. A few years later Dick sold his interest in his restaurants and took two years off to help raise his boys and to enjoy the beauty of the area. They moved to Santa Barbara in 1985. They introduced their sons to many of the National Parks, from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the top of Grinnell Glacier. He was always present for his family: a catcher for the delivery at his sons’ births, and a conductor of campfires and BBQs. He had simple needs with a complex awareness of others. A weather afficionado, he kept copious records of rain and snowfall. When Susan would say, “Good night and see you in the morning,” his refrain was, “God willing and the creek don’t rise”

Dick was born to Lawrence and Ruth Davidson in Chicago, Illinois, July 19, 1947, and passed away in Santa Barbara, California, on December 19, 2022 after living ten years with dementia. Through it all he kept his kind and sweet disposition, appreciating the help and support from friends and family. He passed away peacefully at home with his wife and sons near, listening to his favorite Eagles music.

Dick leaves behind his wife of 52 years, Susan, and his two sons, Mike and Kevin, as well as three grandchildren, Kieran, Asher, and Motley. Dick also is survived by his sister, Linda (David Ross) of Gilbert, Arizona, and his recently deceased brother John’s widow (Mary) of Prescott, Arizona. There are also many nieces, nephews, cousins, and forever friends who will miss him dearly.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, April 15, from 1:00 to 3:00. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to for location.

In his joyful memory, the family requests that any donations be made to the Santa Barbara Middle School Coach Dick Davidson Scholarship Fund. Go with Gratitude.


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