LORRAINE DUNN DAVIS
Lorraine Fay Dunn de Davis was born on September 12, 1942 in Gorgas Hospital in Panama City, Panama to William Dunn Linton and Catherine Lewis de Dunn.
Lorraine was related to accomplished athletes on both sides of her family thus, it was no surprise when she displayed extraordinary speed as a child. Her father was a competitive weightlifter before becoming an accountant for the Panama Canal, and her Aunt Josephine Lewis Sampson held many of the country’s records in hurdles. In addition to running track, she initially played softball and volleyball. As she grew older, she focused on track and field, qualified for Panama’s National Team at age 15 and soon broke her beloved Aunt Jo’s records.
She emerged in international competition at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago. There, she won a silver medal as a member of Panama’s 4×100 meters relay team. As a sprinter in the late 1950s, her rivals included track and field greats Wilma Rudolph, Vivian Brown and Lucinda Williams.
After she graduated from high school in 1961, Rudolph’s coach, Edward S. Temple, offered her a track scholarship to train under him at Tennessee State University. Accepting the offer, she donned the royal blue and white uniforms of the TSU Tigerbelles.
She became part of the University’s dominating tradition in track and field, which during Temple’s 44-year tenure produced 40 Olympians.
Mrs. Davis represented Panama in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where she was one of the first Panamanian women to represent her country in the Olympics. In the 1963 Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, she received a bronze medal in the 200 meters with a time of 24.7 seconds. At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, she was Panama’s Flag Bearer in the Opening Ceremonies, an honor she cherished her entire life.
In 1965, she graduated from Tennessee State with honors, and with the exception of one more meet in Canada, she largely abandoned running to concentrate on a career as an accountant. She worked for Caterpillar Tractor Co. and then Pabst Brewing Co., both in Peoria, Ill. In 1974, she briefly coached the University of Kansas Women’s Cross-Country and Track Teams before moving to the Washington, D.C. area in 1975.
Settling in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, she worked for a time as an accountant for the Fairfax County Park Authority. For the last twenty years of her life, she was an accountant at the National Bar Association in Washington.
On January 13, 2000, Lorraine Dunn Davis was featured in an announcement in El Siglo which instituted the Panamanian Athletic Hall of Fame as determined by Excelentisma Senora Mireya Moscoso, President of Panama. The article made the following pronouncement: Como Presidenta de la República y en nombre de mi equipo de gobierno expreso un sincero reconocimiento a todos los deportistas panamenos, quienes a lo largo del Siglo XX dieron todo su esfuerzo para enaltecer nuestro pais, nacional e internacionalmente.
Lorraine Dunn Davis died at the age of 61 on October 16, 2003 at North Arundel Hospital. She collapsed after a heart attack at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where she was about to board a flight to California for a relative’s wedding.
Mrs. Davis was a member of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta service sorority and past president of its educational and community service foundation.
She was past treasurer of the Fairfax County-wide PTA and a member of the Williamsburg Manor Civic Association, the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Northern Virginia League of Women Voters and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Alexandria.
Survivors include her husband of 37 years, John Wesley Davis; a daughter, Aisha Duyen Davis; a son, Kiilu Davis (children: Kiilu Davis II, Donovan Dunn Davis, Makayla Swift Davis); and a sister, Lydia Patricia Dunn de Harris. She was preceded in death by her youngest sister, Raquel Octavia Dunn.