Hugh “Hughy” Davis III, an access services assistant at Fondren Library, died Sept. 23. He was 30 years old.
Davis was a well-known, friendly face to Fondren patrons, where he’d worked since 2017. From his perch at the front desk, Davis greeted patrons with a cheerful smile as they entered. He was also widely praised by friends, family and colleagues for his love of animals, which came in handy one August day this year when two nonhuman visitors snuck into the library.
“Hughy was always ready to help with any task at Fondren Library, from moving bookcases to corralling raccoons in the stacks,” said Jeanette Sewell, the database and metadata management coordinator for the library. “When I went up to the second floor last month to see our raccoon visitors for myself, I was not at all surprised that Hughy was already there.
“He loved all kinds of animals, and even these raccoons were no exception,” Sewell said. “So there he was, watching over two wild interlopers to make sure they were safe until they could be trapped and removed. I'm glad to have such a perfect memory of Hughy's caring and friendly nature.”
Davis was a friend to all — animals and people — said Amanda Thomas, user experience librarian at Fondren, who recalled that he was the first to volunteer for any project, including organizing staff parties and events.
“Even though he was a strapping young man with a mighty beard who could lift and move just about anything in the library, he had a kindness and gentleness to his nature,” Thomas said. “We shared stories about traveling near and far, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and having bearded dragons as pets.”
During the pandemic, Thomas said, “it was always a thrill to see one of his pets hanging out with him on Zoom; it definitely brightened those months when we were primarily sheltering in place. I will miss him dearly and am sure everyone in the library who had the gift of knowing Hughy feels the same.”
Sue Garrison, the access services manager at Fondren, remembered Davis as a staff member who touched the lives of many during his years on the library’s team.
“Hughy completely embodied what it meant to provide exemplary service at Rice,” Garrison said. “He stepped into leadership roles at a moment’s notice, never considered any request outside of his job and always made time for others, accepting them on their terms with gentle empathy.”
Born and raised in New Orleans, Davis’ family relocated to Houston following Hurricane Katrina. He graduated from Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in 2010 and went on to attend both Louisiana State University and the University of Houston.
Davis is survived by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends. A wake will be held Oct. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Earthman Funeral Directors Hunters Creek, 8303 Katy Freeway. A Catholic funeral mass and burial will be conducted in New Orleans at a date to be announced. The family has requested any donations to be made to the Strake Jesuit College Preparatory Crusader Fund in honor of Hughy Davis.