Former longtime city manager dies at 90
Fred Davis, Chico’s nearly legendary city manager who served from 1959 to 1992, died April 23 at the age of 90. Davis, who was born in San Francisco, moved to Chico with his wife, Elaine, in 1953 after serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II and then graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering. Davis became the city’s director of public works before getting the city manager job. Elaine died in 1964 and he remarried Joyce Iverson three years later. She passed away in 2001.
After retiring, Davis (pictured) stayed involved in local politics and served as interim Butte County chief accounting officer in the late 1990s and as the Chico Area Recreational District’s interim general manager in 2001. He ran unsuccessfully for Chico City Council in 2004 at the age of 80, saying he had plenty of time and stamina to serve the city. His politics, he said, were neutral when he served as city manager. “I don’t think anybody could really understand what my politics are,” he said. He also refused to take any campaign contributions.
In later campaigns, however, Davis was very generous with his own contributions to council candidates. In the 2010 City Council election, he gave $500 campaign contributions to present-day Mayor Mark Sorensen and candidates Bob Evans and Bob Kromer. In 2012, he gave $2,500 to five candidates, including present-day Councilmen Sean Morgan, who was elected at the time, and Andrew Coolidge, who was elected last year.
In 2008, Davis wrote a letter to the editor of this paper in response to an editorial that called for granting the mayor greater authority. “The present city organization is completely dysfunctional,” he wrote. “It is made up of too many departments that operate like independent fiefdoms and will resist any real change unless an experienced manager undertakes a reorganization to carry out the council’s policies in a timely manner and properly manages Chico’s finances.”
Services for Davis will be held June 16 at the Lakeside Pavilion beginning at 3 p.m.