Michael (Mike) Davis, 70, of Charleston, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015.
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Mike Davis was a champion. I do not use that word lightly. Read what many others have written about Mike in this Memorial Tribute. Yes, Mike Davis was a Champion - a man of honor, relentless in his support for families and people with brain injuries, and a dedicated colleague to hundreds of us who had the good fortune to know him. For Mike, this was his "calling", it wasn't work. As many of us know, Mike was the kind of guy that when his feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil said, "Oh Crap, he's up!" Mike was a rare character and a very special friend.
Mike's character was deeply embedded in the roots of his home state, West Virginia. He was as tough as any coal miner, as loving as any father could be, and driven by hard work and passion to help others. His time in the Navy made him a proud Veteran (he served aboard the mighty Intrepid battleship) and defender of his country. Unfortunately, it was the tragic brain injury to his beloved son, Todd, that later defined Mike. Like so many other original Founders in brain injury, i.e., Marilyn Spivak, Carolyn Rocchio, Charles Haynes, Emmie Burke, Joanne Cramer, etc., Mike saw the need to organize his state around critical brain injury issues and was the driving force in the founding the WV Head Injury Association in the early 1980's and, more recently, one of the Founders of the US Brain Injury Alliance. Mike also served on numerous regional task forces, several national committees, and traveled around the US and abroad to advocate for the needs of individuals and their families.
I was once traveling with Mike in his SUV (i.e., his office!) to see a family in North Carolina. His car had over 300,000 miles on it. Mike said, "These are all brain injury miles and when this car gives out I'll just get another and keep on trucking." Those of us who worked with Mike also know that the man never stopped. If a family needed help over there, he went. If a person needed support over here, he went. Mike was truly 24/7. His resiliency was legendary, as was his no-nonsense attitude. Mike would take on physicians, psychologists, therapists, and anyone he needed to in order to help an individual or a family. Mike once said to me, "Ron, you make head injury rehab too complicated. Just listen to the person, listen to their family, and feel the pain. Look into their eyes and you'll know exactly what to do." Those words will forever echo in my head.
We hope you take comfort in some of the words on this page from his many, many friends. Mike has left a huge hole in me and so many others. I will miss him dearly every time I listen to a family tell their story. And I will always ask myself, what would Mike do?
Lastly, we invite you to join us at the NABIS conference in Tampa, Florida, in April, 2016. for a Memorial Tribute to celebrate Mike Davis and his work, his passion and commitment, and his dedication to individuals with brain injuries and their families.
Dr. Ronald Savage
Tributes from the brain injury community
We are forever grateful that through Mike’s personal tragedy, the injury of his young son, he responded by becoming a fierce advocate, helping families and those with brain injures navigate access to care and living with a brain injury. I learned to never argue politics with Mike and I learned to admire his tenacity in getting people what they needed. Dr. Deb McMorrow
Mike was a true brain injury professional. His dedication and desire to improve the lives of everyone touched by brain injury were unequaled. The entire brain injury community has suffered a great loss. He may be gone but he will never be forgotten. Charles G. Monnett III
Mike provided much needed support to families navigating the the world of brain injury. He was not only extremely competent as a case manager, but possessed a great deal of credibility and passion because he had walked in their shoes as the father of a son with TBI. Sharon Grandinette
Mike Davis exemplified heart, commitment and generosity; there was never any doubt about his purpose or agenda. Entering the world of acquired brain injury by virtue of his son’s injury, he devoted his life and personal capital to advocate both locally and nationally on behalf of all people with brain injury and their families. Mike got it; he aggregated complex scientific, political, clinical, and financial issues into the basis of what truly mattered – life quality and people on a person by person basis. More than anyone else, Michael W. Davis represented the true grit of this field. Dr. Harvey E. Jacobs
While we have all suffered a great loss, Mike's dedication, professionalism and caring for those who needed his help and guidance will remain his enduring legacy. He will be missed. Hank N. Didier, Jr.
Mike was the kindest, most caring man. His compassion for families devastated by brain injuries knew no limit. He had a special way of bonding with families that gave them hope, a precious commodity. He was my friend, a fellow West Virginian, a true gentlemen and a tireless advocate. Carolyn Rocchio
Mike was a tireless, devoted advocate for survivors of traumatic brain injury and their families. He positively impacted the lives of countless survivors of TBI along with their families, having brought stability and calm to situations that, were it not for him, would have left them feeling overwhelmed and spiraling out of control. I will personally miss Mike’s passion for his professional endeavors, coordinating my services with him and his friendship. Rest in peace, my friend! Harold Bialsky
Mike's smile and tremendous optimistic attitude was infectious. He could not help the TBI community enough and despite his own family issues with brain injury would be available any day and literally any time for ideas or anything he could do to help. As soon as I hear his name—I see his smile and remember his sincere willingness to help. We have lost a soldier in our battle and I will continue to miss him. Robert T. Karns
Mike was an indefatigable advocate for the brain injured population and an irreplaceable resource for those of us seeking to help. It's difficult to fathom his absence. Stewart M. Casper
I loved Mike Davis, and he loved all of you...each and every member of NABIS, each and every reader of this publication, each and every professional, who has applied their talents to advance the quality of life for the survivors of acquired brain injury and their families...Mike was not a simple man, he was driven by a singular mission...he devoted over thirty five years, more than half his life, to improve the lives of others, often to the sacrifice of his own...many of you worked with Mike, many of you laughed and cried with Mike, many of you knew that there was no request Mike would refuse if it could advance the well being of a patient, a client or a stranger in need...I for one, learned a great deal from Mike, and while our community will be diminished by his passing, we are all stronger in our resolve to fulfill the mission of NABIS for having known, and loved, Mike Davis. Lou Siracusano
Mike Davis was a fighter and advocator for TBI survivors and their families. They always came first for Mike. He will be truly missed. Bruce H. Stern
Our clients loved Mike because he cared deeply, he listened intensely and with empathy, and he was so passionate about his work which was his life mission. I know of no other person like Mike who did what he did. He will be missed forever. Mark Kitrick
I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Mike Davis over the past 25 years, both at brain injury conferences and serving on the NABIS board. The words that come to mind when I think about Mike is passionate and advocate. In all our various activities and events over the years, Mike never lost focus that our efforts ultimately should improve the lives of individuals with brain injury and their families. He helped keep all of us grounded on this agenda. He lived a purpose driven life to make a difference, which is the footprint his legacy leaves behind. A tireless advocate who made a difference in many people’s lives. Mike will be dearly missed, but not forgotten, by the many of us who were fortunate to know him, and call him a friend. David Seaton
Mike had a fierce sense of mission and purpose in serving individuals with brain injury and their families. He was unceasing in his efforts to this as a father, as a fierce advocate, and as a colleague and friend to many. Mike was quick with a joke, had a laugh that would light up the room, and will be missed but not forgotten. Geoff Lauer
Mike Davis was a true champion for persons with brain injuries and their families. He was a pioneering advocate for the brain injury cause as national and state organizations began to be formed in the 80s and he remained a powerful voice in the field until his final day. Never one to take no for an answer, Mike was tenacious fighter and a noble man. The entire brain injury community suffers a significant loss with Mike’s passing, but we are so grateful for his strength, leadership and above all the legacy he leaves behind and the work that he would demand we continue. Chas Haynes
On November 21, 2015 I lost a best friend. My program and clients lost their biggest advocate, and the world lost a beautiful person. What made Michael Davis so special was his love of life, his positive spirit and his tireless efforts to help people with brain injuries. Mike was truly a genuine person. What you saw was what you got. Mike's life was forever altered when his son Todd was severely and permanently injured in a motor vehicle accident decades ago. Michael channeled his grief and anger toward helping individuals with brain injuries and their families. It became his life's mission. Michael was a true hero to the thousands of people he helped over the years and the countless lives he touched. He will be forever missed and the void he leaves is huge. We can honor his memory by working to continue his mission of helping people who are in need. I miss my friend Michael terribly. May he rest in peace. Paul Larkin
Mike was devoted to the cause of helping people because they or a loved one had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Mike's heart was always in the right place. His only motivation was to ensure that everyone received the best care available. His death is a tremendous loss for those of us at NABIS, as well as the entire brain injury community- survivors, caretakers, and professionals. Dr. Jonathan Silver
Mike's true legacy is the way he brought so many people together for the singular cause of helping the victims of traumatic brain injury. Nearly every professional I have worked with I met through mike. He cared enough about my clients to make sure their needs were met by the best people in the field. And he did it with the utmost sincerity, compassion and commitment to that singular cause. I owe him the greatest debt for teaching me how to devote myself the same way he did and for that I will be forever grateful. William Ricigliano
Mike was a one-of-a-kind advocate. As a volunteer, he kept the Brain Injury Alliance of WV going for years. Mike became involved with brain injury due to his son’s injury but has helped so many others due to his perseverance and caring. Mike provided leadership and insight as a founding member of the United States Brain Injury Alliance. We owe Mike a debt of gratitude for all he has done for the brain injury community. He will be sorely missed. Barbara Geiger-Parker
Mike Davis was an advocate for brain injury survivors. He never let any obstacle stand in his way of guiding, comforting, and educating a family about brain injury. He explained some of the life changes to be expected and the best ways to obtain medical treatment. He knew first hand what a family needed and he gave of himself tirelessly to accomplish this goal. Many times survivors, unfortunately, do not have a voice. Mike Davis provided a voice for brain injured survivors. Not only was he an advocate, he also was a great friend who was always willing to help. He will be missed greatly. Sandra Harrah
I first met Mike in the mid 1980's. He was one of the last "early" family members still at the meetings pushing, prodding and questioning what more could be done. Mike leaves a great legacy of representing what I hear from families all the time~ wanting more and wanting better. It was that unending drive that keeps this movement going and Mike is certainly someone we can thank for that. Dr. Janet Williams
Mike Davis was a great friend and a devoted and eloquent advocate for people with brain injuries. I got to know Mike as a brain injury case manager who traveled with his patients often cross country metaphorically and often literally holding their hands and reassuring and guiding them as they obtained vitally important PET or MRI DTI brain imaging examinations. He had the sensitivity, kindness, empathy, and ability to work compassionately individuals in very challenging and trying circumstances. He will be greatly missed. Dr. Joseph Wu
Mike was a passionate man, a true friend, and a wonderful colleague. His dedication to families was unparalleled. Mike understood how brain injury impacted the whole family, not just the person with a TBI. He knew that without a strong family, many individuals with TBI would not make it. Mike will be missed, but he left us with a wonderful legacy. Dr. Robert Voogt
Mike Davis was a man who wore many hats as a parent, advocate, case manager, organizer, clinician, and speaker. But no matter where he was or who he was with, what shone through was his passion for helping people understand the complexity of brain injury and the perpetual challenges faced by so many survivors, along with their families and caregivers. His dogged determination to make the world a better place for the survivors of brain injury and their families has made a difference in the lives of many. Mike, you will be missed. Marilyn Lash
Mike was a compass - clear and focused in his direction, which was always the path of advocacy and fighting for the disempowered. He was unyielding when the winds blew, and no one ever doubted where he stood on any issue. He loved his family, the TBI community, his West Virginia roots and generously shared his deep heart with all of us. He will be missed. Dr. Tina M. Trudel
Mike Davis was a good man. Although his son, Todd, was seriously injured through no fault of Mike’s, he has stood by Todd and helped and loved Todd since he was injured. He spent countless hours assisting Todd and all his special needs. Mike also helped hundreds of individuals and families with traumatic brain injury throughout his career. He was adept in finding services for these individuals and families and spent countless hours, day and night, to assist brain injured individuals and their families. In his work Mike was co-founder of the West Virginia Brain Injury Association, was active at the national level, and participated extensively in the development of NABIS and the development of the Brain Injury Specialist program. Mike was called upon many times to assist with these organizations and was always ready and willing to help. Mike was my friend and colleague. We worked together, we played together, and we shared the good times and the bad together. I miss him deeply. C. Michael Bee
Mike's passion to help people made him a pleasure to work with at multiple levels. Mike was tireless and he never stopped helping families no matter what their needs were. He will be missed. Dr. Brian Greenwald
Mike Davis was a friend and a professional colleague for over 10 years. His commitment and dedication to brain injured people and their families is unprecedented. I'm honored to call him my friend. Dr. Mariusz Ziejewski
Mike Davis, champion of all things good in the world with the exception of WVU Football! The NABIS Staff more than appreciated Mike’s humor, honesty and willingness to lend a hand when the going got rough. We always knew to that if meat and potatoes were not on the menu for a Board Dinner, that Wild Turkey was the next best thing. He made a friend everywhere he turned and will be missed by all of us on the NABIS Admin Team. Margaret Roberts
In revisiting Mike’s celebration of life, each moment spent with him is held so dear. Mike will always be a most special man, born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world had gone mad and truly deserved his help. Mike had such a zest for living, such vitality to the day of his passing, that each of us who knew him and loved him will never be the same. Mike’s face, his voice, and that special smile has given me a lifetime of memories. The ripples from Mike’s splash in life will never subside. His personality and way of doing things have touched my life in many ways. All too often, we reflect on the things we thought but did not say. Mike loved everything about his world and the people in his world and his life. We did not want Mike to leave and he did not want to leave. Mike is the magic. Michael H. Minton, Esq.
Mike was a dear friend who welcomed me heartily into the NABIS community and was always available to assist anyone who would ask. He was 100% committed to the brain injury treatment and research movement, and he was also committed to the people behind that movement. His efforts have greatly and directly benefitted countless individuals and families affected by brain injury. His hearty laugh, friendship, good cheer and dedication to others will all be sorely missed. Jeffrey W. Padilla, Esq.
Mike was my brother-in-law for 20+ years and one of my dearest friends. I worked as his secretary at Neurological Case Management for thirteen years until he closed the office. He was not only my ex-brother-in-law but a brother to me. He was always thinking of others and how he could help or be of service to them. I saw the compassion he had for his clients and the assistance he gave them. There is so much I would like to say about him but words escape me. We shed tears together after Todd's accident but also had many laughs working together. He was a great person and I miss him so. Charlotte E. Steed
Mike Davis - father, husband, grandfather, veteran, friend, professional and above all, Case Manager. In my eyes Mike was THE Case Manager; the one who paved the pathways for the rest of us; the one whose shoes will never be filled. He was ready to go at a moment’s notice even if only to provide an ear to listen or a hand to hold. He always seemed to have the number to call and to know the person who would answer the phone. He spent countless hours in his car driving to see families or taking clients to their medical appointments but was still never too busy to take a call from one more person needing guidance at the end of the day or perhaps as he sat in the airport waiting for the flight to get to his next appointment.
I was very fortunate to work with Mike as a Case Manager at Neurological Case Management Associates and throughout the course of our 20+ years, I learned from him all the time. Mike was a great friend, a good man and a professional who was committed to improving the lives of those suffering from the effects of traumatic brain injury. He will be sorely missed as a professional in the field, but more importantly, by all of us who knew and loved him as a proud West Virginia good old boy with a huge heart. God speed Mikey…….keep ‘em laughing up there. Patti Jackson Darling
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