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94-Year-Old Man Installs Pool for Neighborhood Kids to Help Him Cope with Grief

Written by Karen Johnson

If there is ever a day (or week) to need a feel-good news story about the beauty that still exists in our world, it’s now. Well, thanks to a 94-year-old retired judge named Keith Davison from Morris, MN, we have that story. Davison sadly lost the love of his life in 2016 when his wife Evy passed away from cancer. After a marriage of 66 years, the emptiness in Davison’s life was too much to bear. So he got an idea.

Neighbors didn’t think he’d actually do it. It’s crazy! Is he serious? But sure enough, one day construction workers began digging a hole in Davison’s yard. And a short time later, Davison’s life was no longer quiet and lonely. What had he created? A pool—open to all the children of the neighborhood.

Borrowing a classic line from Field of Dreams, Davison said, “I knew they’d come.” 

And they did. 

Scores of kids have spent the summer at their new “neighborhood pool”, which is “no mere wading pool, at 32 feet long – and 9 feet deep under the diving board” according to a local news story. Jessica Huebner, a mom of four who lives nearby, says she and her kids have spent many days swimming at Davison’s pool since it opened in July. She also tells Davison (who has no grandchildren of his own), “These are your grandkids.” 

Davison has one basic rule: a parent’s or grandparent’s supervision is required for any child who swims. Other than that, the kids can come and swim whenever they’d like. Huebner adds, “It’s him spreading joy throughout our neighborhood for these kids.” And joy is something they all needed. 

Davison tells KARE11.com of the unbearable weight that losing Evy placed on him: “You just can’t imagine what it’s like. You cry a lot. That’s just the way it is, because she’s not here.” But now, Davison sits outside in the shade and comfort of a lawn chair, enjoying the sounds of joy and laughter and splashing that fill his yard every day. And he says that he, too, enjoys a leisurely swim after all the children have gone home for the day.

Is Keith Davison’s idea crazy? Some might say so. But it’s certainly better than loneliness and grief. “I’m not just sitting here staring at the walls anymore,” he tells KARE11.com. Now his days are full of life and energy. Kids who previously had nowhere to swim have a pool to enjoy. And a lonely elderly man has friends and family again. Maybe his idea wasn’t so crazy after all. 

Feature image photo via Boyd Huppert, KARE

About the author

Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a free-lance writer who blogs at The 21st Century SAHM http://www.the21stcenturysahm.com/ —a cathartic mix of sarcasm, angry Mama Bear rants, and confessions about how she’s probably screwing up her kids. She is also assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds and has had work featured on Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, What the Flicka, and Bon Bon Break, among others. Karen is also a contributing writer in Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids!) and in What Does It Mean to Be White in America? and she writes monthly for KC Parent magazine. Follow Karen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/21stcenturysahm/, Twitter https://twitter.com/21stcenturysahm , and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/the21stcenturysahm/