BAR HARBOR, MAINE – “We at the MDI Biological Laboratory join with all those mourning the loss of Kathryn W. Davis,” says Kevin Strange, Ph.D., director of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. “Her great generosity, coupled with her enthusiasm for MDIBL’s mission, launched the Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine and made it possible for us to expand our research into the causes of healing and aging. We will miss her intelligence, wit, and enormous zeal for life. Kayaking on Frenchman’s Bay with Kathryn when she was a mere 102 years old is something I will always remember.”
MDIBL was fortunate to receive gifts totaling over $2 million from Mrs. Davis over the past six years. In 2012, Mrs. Davis cut the ribbon on the new building housing the Kathryn W. Davis Research Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine. The Davis Center currently consists of six laboratory groups studying regeneration, healing, and aging.
Kathryn Wasserman Davis, Ph.D., was a resident of Northeast Harbor, Maine, Tarrytown, New York, and Jupiter Island, Florida. She was a noted philanthropist and supporter of the arts, education, biomedical research, conservation and the environment, global peace initiatives, and representative government. She spent her life working to improve American understanding of world culture and politics, especially those of Russia.
Mrs. Davis was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1907 and received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1928. She was awarded an M.A. in International Relations from Columbia University in 1931 and a Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, Switzerland in 1934. Her husband, Shelby Cullom Davis, was ambassador to Switzerland from 1969 to 1975 and founded the investment firm Shelby Cullom Davis & Company. Mr. Davis died in 1994.
Mrs. Davis exhibited her adventurous spirit early on. She accompanied her mother on a suffragette march when she was four, and at twenty-two she and her sister explored Russia, riding across the Caucasus on horseback. She started oil painting in her nineties and described herself as “a very fast Impressionist.”
She is survived by her daughter Diana Davis Spencer of Washington, D.C; her son Shelby M.C. Davis of Jackson, Wyoming; and eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Read Mrs. Davis’s full obituary.