Richard Samuel ‘Dick’ Davison, developer and onetime Pimlico Race Course official, dies

Richard Samuel “Dick” Davison loved classical music and was a supporter of the Peabody Institute.

Richard Samuel “Dick” Davison, a developer, Pimlico Race Course official and philanthropist, died of complications from pneumonia Aug. 16 at his Pikesville home. He would have turned 97 on Aug. 20.

Marc Terrill, president of the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, said: “Dick Davison was a gentleman’s gentleman. He was as solid a person as they come. He was kind, thoughtful, generous and very savvy. His easygoing demeanor was magnetic.


“In Jewish thought, we are taught a high honor is the crown of a good name. Dick Davison earned that name,” Mr. Terrill said.

Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Mr. Davison was the son of Meyer Davison, owner of Davison’s Used Automobiles, and Etta Fleischer Davison, a homemaker who immigrated from Vienna, Austria.


Mr. Davison attended Nottingham High School in Syracuse, and during World War II, he served in the Army. He trained at the University of Pennsylvania as a Japanese language translator and was stationed in Japan.

After leaving the military, he completed his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University. As a student, he maintained an active social life as a member of the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau.

He was introduced by mutual friends to his future wife, Rosalee Cohen, a Baltimore native.

Friends said their initial introduction did not go well. “With time, the couple realized that they had a special connection,” his daughter-in-law, Sarah Davison, said.

They were married on June 1, 1952 at the Hotel Belvedere and honeymooned in Bermuda. They were married for 71 years until her death in June of this year.

The couple built a house in 1968 designed by architect Donald Sickler, where they remained until they died.

Mr. Davison joined his father-in-law, Ben Cohen, as a builder and developer. He worked on garden apartments and office buildings in Norfolk, Virginia; Syracuse; Richmond, Virginia; and Baltimore.

Mr. Davison helped establish and rebrand this portion of the business to what it is known as today — Mt. Royal Management in Baltimore.


He was a past president of the Home Builders Association of Maryland, now known as the Maryland Building Industry Association.

“In my 50 years in the real estate business, I never met a person who didn’t like and respect Dick Davison,” Francis Preroff, a colleague, said. “He was a man of the highest integrity.”

His daughter-in-law said: “He is described by those who knew him as fair, focused and steady. He did not let small things bother him and acted with integrity.”

He served as racing secretary at Pimlico Race Course until 1986, when his father-in-law, Ben Cohen, and Cohen’s brother, Herman, sold the race course for $32 million to a group headed by the late Frank J. De Francis. Among the secretary’s responsibilities were overseeing track records, horses’ paperwork and the racing program.

Mr. Davison regularly attended races at Pimlico, and his wife owned prize-winning thoroughbreds.

An avid golfer, he held memberships at both the Suburban Club of Baltimore and Palm Beach Country Club in Florida. He and his wife spent winter months at their Palm Beach apartment.


They enjoyed going to concerts, art lectures and the ballet.

“He loved all types of music and especially loved to dance. He was an amazing dancer,” his daughter-in-law said. “At age 83, he attended his first Bruce Springsteen concert. At age 95, he was about the best dancer on the floor at his granddaughter Maddie’s bat mitzvah.”

Mr. Davison was a supporter of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

“Dick was a charming, lovely man and a good friend to Peabody, offering his leadership and good counsel in service on our volunteer board for many years. His and Rosalee’s generosity allowed for the building of the Cohen-Davison Family Theatre, a performance space on our campus that has become a favorite for recitals and master classes by faculty and students alike,” the Peabody’s dean, Fred Bronstein, said in a statement.

“Through that and the two endowed scholarships for which they provided support, the Davisons’ legacy will have a lasting impact on Peabody, and we are truly grateful for it,” the statement says.

Mr. Davison was active in community affairs and Jewish charities. He served as president of the Baltimore chapter of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology.


The Morning Sun


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He served in various roles at the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and as chair from 1988 to 1991.

He was a past president of the old Temple Oheb Shalom.

A reader of history and biographies, he loved socializing and traveling with his wife. For many years, both he and Rosalee were also part of an informal gourmet club.

Survivors include two sons, Mark Davison of Lutherville and John Davison of Baltimore; a daughter, Joanna Golden of Aspen, Colorado; and eight grandchildren.

A private service was held.