Louise Lowry Davis

Louise Lowry Davis, Hall of Fame Community Leader

Louise Lowry Davis admits today she always had a bit of “showmanship” in her.

“I wanted class … the tops … the best for anything I did,” confessed Davis, who served as a supervisor for the City’s Recreation Department for 30 years before retiring in 1966. “I loved my job. I felt a great responsibility for my work because I was representing the city of Santa Barbara through the Recreation Department and I felt I had to give my best. The pride I had in my city wouldn’t allow me to give any less.” With that kind of attitude, it’s no wonder Santa Barbara Recreation Department’s women’s programs under the direction of Davis became the envy of other cities all around the country. The success of today’s women’s recreational programs sponsored by the city are due in large part to Davis.

As director of the Women’s Sports League, which was sponsored by the Recreation Department, Davis turned women’s sports activities into one of the biggest draws in the city back in the 1930s and 40s.

As many as 5,000 fans would turn out at Pershing Park for the opener of the softball season. The women’s softball league drew over 200,000 people over an eight-year period. To draw interest in the league, Davis got the Santa Barbara High band and the American Legion Drum Corps to perform at the season’s opener.

Davis said it took hard work and organization to get the women’s sports programs the popularity it got back in the 1930s and early 1940s but she says it also took a lot of help. “I’ve had a lot of success but it must be remembered it wasn’t the work of one individual but a united group.”

Among those she credits is the late Katherine McCloskey, the first woman inducted into the Santa Barbara Hall of Fame. “She started the Women’s Sports League -in 1932 and I came aboard in 1935.”

Sports has always been part of Davis’ life. She was a star athlete at Hollywood High before moving to Santa Barbara to attend Santa Barbara State College. Besides competing in softball, she was one of the nation’s top female table tennis players during her young adulthood.

Davis said she learned a lot from the seven City Recreation Directors she worked under during her 30- year service to the city. “All of them were wonderful men and all different and I learned from all of them.”

Since her retirement from the recreation department, Louise Lowry Davis has been doing volunteer work for a variety of activities.

“I’ve done what I like to do all my life and that’s sports.”