About a mile or so into the town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, there's the front of Sallisaw High School -- it's all that remains. The rest burned down in a fire around the year 2000.
That rotunda remains because it's now on the National Register of Historic Places. And in a way, that's how the life of former OU quarterback Steve Davis is etched into the collective memory of Sallisaw.
Aside from being head principal and math teacher while Davis attended, J.T. Stites has also been a close friend of the Davis family for many years. "He was a very fine boy and it's just a tragedy to this community and to the state of Oklahoma," Stites said.
J.T.'s son Tom was a high school teammate of Steve's in the early 70's. Davis was three years ahead of Tom but Davis treated the underclassmen with as much respect as anyone. "He was a big shot, but he never acted [like] it," Tom said.
"He could always come down to the level of a freshman even though he was the senior and interact with people, and show real interest and concern in their lives."
Davis's tendency to watch over his underclassmen could be attributed to the other building two blocks over, a place Steve Davis also spent much of his time: the First Baptist Church of Sallisaw.
It was that same faith which attracted others to the town of Sallisaw as well, including Dr. James Wells, who owns and operates a local dentistry, along with his wife Suzy. Both were graduates of the University of Oklahoma and looked to relocate after spending time at Fort Jackson.
"He was a man of faith," said Jim Wells. "He used to fly to FCA (Fellow Christian Athletes) on his own when he was 18 years old. He was ordained Baptist preacher.
"Anybody that can do that, this is bound to be a good town to raise their family in."
It appears to have worked out for the Wells family. Two of their sons played football at Sallisaw. Matt, the elder, was All-State for the Black Diamonds close to twenty years after Steve Davis accomplished the same feat. Davis, on his accord, made the trip from Tulsa to his hometown to personally present Wells his new All-State letterman's jacket.
Wells went on to play at Utah State. In December of 2012, Matt Wells was named the new head coach of the Utah State Aggies. His brother Luke left his assistant coaching position at Iowa State to join his brother's coaching staff in Logan, Utah.
At the time of this publication, Jim and Suzy hadn't spoken to their sons yet regarding Steve Davis's death. It was the first day of Utah State's spring practices. But the parents insisted Davis was as inspirational to the boys for his success as a player and his commitment as a Christian as anyone from the community.
To best summarize the impact of Steve Davis to Sallisaw, Oklahoma -- we received a text message Monday afternoon from a close friend of the Davis family.
It read, "Heroes are remembered. But legends never die."
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