When word of Murray Davis’s death reached Piedmont late Saturday, an impromptu memorial appeared on the Piedmont High School baseball field: his initials, “M.D.” spray-painted onto the outfield grass, writ large.
In the days that followed about two dozen bouquets of flowers, Piedmont High baseball caps, signed baseballs, and photographs of Davis were placed lovingly on the field beside those two letters.
Davis, a songwriter and community leader active in Piedmont’s youth sports, died suddenly on Saturday, Dec. 29 while vacationing with family in Hawaii.
He was rushed to a local hospital near Kona after suffering an apparent heart attack. Paramedics attempted to revive him unsuccessfully. He was 57.
Funeral services will be held this Friday at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth Abraham at 327 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.
“If you had walked around town a couple months ago and asked ‘Who is a leader you trust to do the right thing in this town?’ that would’ve been Murray Davis,” said Eric Sullivan, who worked closely with Davis for many years on matters relating to baseball in Piedmont. “Murray could think big — beyond himself — to the entire community. He always did what was right.”
In recent years, Davis served as president of the Piedmont Baseball Foundation, and as president of the Piedmont High School boosters. He also coached for years in local youth baseball. Several hundred boys participated each season in the leagues run by the Piedmont Baseball Foundation, and Sullivan said that Davis, as president, “revitalized and rejuvenated it. It had lost its luster. He changed it and made it really exciting for kids again.”
To Matt Heafey, who coached youth baseball with Davis and joined him on the PHS booster club, Davis was “an adoring, supportive friend who will be missed here forever. He was a fixture at the baseball games. If there was a baseball team playing, Murray would be there. And as much as he cheered for his own kids, he cheered for other kids as much or more.”
In 2002, Davis became a stay-at-home father, devoting himself to the daily lives of his three sons, while helping his wife Virginia to grow two businesses.
Apart from his family, music was Davis’ defining passion. In the early 1980s he founded a four-member rock band, the Murmurs. With Davis as its lead singer and songwriter, the band played Bay Area clubs and produced seven CDs.
Born on April 21, 1955 in Omaha, Neb., Murray Richard Davis was only four when his family moved to Woodland Hills in Southern California.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Davis travelled the country for several years, and worked an array of jobs, in a restaurant, construction, as a coffee house barista, and on a shrimp boat in Florida.
Later he worked for nearly 15 years in financial services, initially at Bank of California, and later for VISA.
He gave up live musical performance when his first son was born in 1991. Unbeknownst to Davis, his wife volunteered him to join the band at Temple Beth Abraham, where he later served as a board member and helped to lead a capital campaign. Davis played lead guitar and sang in the band during the synagogue’s Rock ‘n Roll Shabbat services during which Sabbath prayers were performed as rock and roll music.
Davis is survived by his wife of 23 years, Virginia Schwab Davis, their three sons, Corey Allen Davis, Milo Evans Davis, and Max Brodkey Davis; his mother Shirley Davis; his sisters Ellen Sears, Laurie Sobelman, and Sally Davis; and 11 nieces and nephews.