Founder of New Haven school dies

Gladys Davis, the person who many consider to have spearheaded the creation of New Albany’s school for special needs adults, passed away Friday.

She was 95.

Davis had served as secretary to the Union County Association for Retarted and Handicapped Children’s board of directors when the association began a fundraising drive to establish a school in the early 1960’s.  

Davis, who had a special needs son and her husband, John Davis, met with other parents in Union County who had children with similar needs and began to discuss the need to create a school where their children could get the type of help they needed.

The school, then named the New Haven School for the Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children, was established in September 1961, following efforts by Davis and other New Albany residents to find aid from local clubs and businesses, as well as city, county and state government.  

Gladys Davis also served as a volunteer for the school, now named the New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults, for 49 years.

Collett Cross, director of New Haven, said Davis had a tremendous influence on New Albany and Union County.

“Gladys will be remembered as a beautiful and vibrant lady,” Cross said. “She has impacted the community in many ways, especially the fact that over 100 clients have received services at New Haven.

“She was dedicated to her family and her special needs son,” Cross continued. “Because of that, she wanted to help him and other families like her family.”

Davis was recognized in 2009 for her leadership in establishing New Haven School and for her volunteer work.

Davis is survived by her son, Johnny Davis and wife, Carolyn, grandson, Joe M. Davis and his wife, Jennie of New Albany, her granddaughter, Dawn Davis Carson and her husband, Jeff, of Hernando, and two great-grandchildren, Katie Davis and John MacGregor Davis of New Albany.

The funeral service was held at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, at United Funeral Service with Whit Lewis officiating. Interment was in New Albany Cemetery.