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History Maker of the Year Award announced

January 28, 2009
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Southwest Florida Museum of History Foundation and Oswald Trippe and Company, Inc. are pleased to announce the History Maker of the Year Award.

In 2009, Florida native and Fort Myers grand dame, Mrs. Berne Davis will be the first recipient of this distinguished award.

Southwest Florida is rich in history and people who have helped to make this area a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. They have fostered community spirit through their work and personal passion for the community. These unique individuals will be distinguished as 'History Makers'.

History makers are citizens of Lee County who have made significant contributions in their specific field, serving the SWFL community. They have had a hand in shaping Southwest Florida history through their actions and will be talked about, researched and written about by Historians 100 years from now.

Bernese Barfield graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1933 and worked for the Chamber of Commerce. Good friend, Mina Edison, hosted Berne's bridal shower before her marriage in 1939 to Sydney Davis, a local haberdashery owner.

Davis quickly became involved in local civic organizations. As a former Queen of Edisonia (1939), she was involved in the Edison Festival of Light for years. As the first president of the Fort Myers Women's Golf Association, she initiated the beautification of the grounds at Fort Myers Country Club. Mrs. Davis has been a member of the Lee Memorial Health Systems Pink Ladies for years and has helped raise funds for the hospital's buildings. Both she and her husband have served on the hospital board at different times.

In 2006, Davis endowed the Bernese B and Sydney R. Davis Chair for Landscape Design, Horticultural Education and Research at FGCU.

Also, in 2006, she bestowed a gift of $1million in her late husband's name to the Florida Arts Cultural Center whose name has been changed to the Sydney & Berne Davis Arts Center.

Davis has been a driving force in local philanthropic endeavors for over 60 years. Mayor Jim Humphrey has been quoted as saying, "I consider Berne to be the First Lady of Fort Myers."

The History Make of the Year ceremony honoring Davis will take place on Wednesday, Feb.11 at The Veranda by invitation.

An Open House will follow at the Southwest Florida Museum of History from 1:30 until 4 p.m. so the public may meet this extraordinary woman who is the 2009 History Maker of the Year.



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