ASHEVILLE -- Patricia Grady Davies, 80, died Sunday, May 28, 2000, of oral cancer.
Wife of diplomat and "Old China Hand," John P. Davies, she was born May 11, 1920, in Paris, France, to Lucrecia del Valle Grady and Henry F. Grady, later Assistant Secretary of State under Franklin D. Roosevelt and then Ambassador to Greece, Iran and India.
She and her husband moved to Asheville in 1978 where she helped establish WUNF, the public radio outlet at the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1980. She produced classical music and news programming for several years with the station. During her tenure, she was particularly proud that WUNF made history by adding a regular program in the Cherokee language.
Her other volunteer activities in Asheville include being a member of the Concord Coalition and Life After Cancer, a support group for cancer survivors, where she did oral histories of other patients.
She grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California at Berkley where she graduated at 20, summa cum laude. She then joined her parents in Washington, D.C., where she became a society reporter for The Washington Post, writing two columns including one entitled "Top Hats and Tiaras." She also was a disc jockey with a radio show called Melody Farm in Washington, D.C., for several years.
She married Davies in 1942 and then spent the better part of a year traveling via Argentina and South Africa to join him in India where he was General Joseph Stillwell's political advisor. While there, she worked in the intelligence offices of the China-Burma Theater. She traveled with her husband to other postings including Moscow, where her first child Sasha was the first All-American baby born in Soviet Russia." Other locations included Germany and Peru. While in Peru, his final Foreign Service posting, Davies was fired by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the culmination of years of harassment by Senator Joe McCarthy. Throughout this ordeal, her resolute support allowed her husband to stand firm.
After his firing, the couple stayed in Peru where they established a furniture factory, Estilo, S.A., where together they designed monoprints using Inca motifs and furniture. The latter would win awards from the American Institute of Interior Designers.
They left Peru in 1964 to return to the United States with their family and from 1966 to 1970 she was a columnist for the Rome Daily American in Italy, with a weekly commentary from Washington, D.C., called Once Over Lightly.
Also in the late 1960's, she was a design consultant to William Pahlmann Associates of New York and the Washington, D.C., management consultant firm of Klein & Saks.
She and her husband moved the younger children, known as the "junior varsity," to Malaga, Spain, in 1972 where they lived, with interim moves to Paris, France, and Petersfield, England, until they returned to the United States.
She is survived by seven children, Sasha Davies of White Plains, N.Y., Tiki Davies of Washington, D.C., John Davies of Baton Rouge, La., Susan Davies of Chatham, N.Y., Jennifer Davies of Seattle, Wash., Deborah Davies of London, England, and Megan Davies of New Orleans, La.; one brother, John Westin Grady of Simi Valley, Calif.; and 11 grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband on Dec. 23, 1999, and two brothers, Reginald Grady of Hillsborough, Calif., and Henry Grady of San Francisco, Calif.
No services are planned.
Memorial contributions may be made to Life After Cancer-Pathways, 121 Sherwood Road, Asheville, NC 28803.
Groce Funeral Home on Patton Avenue is assisting the family.
Patricia Grady Davies, 80, a Washington Post society reporter in the early 1940s and the widow of diplomat John Paton Davies Jr., died of cancer May 28 at a hospital in Asheville, N.C. She lived in Asheville since 1978.
Mrs. Davies was born in Paris and grew up in Berkeley, Calif. She was a 1940 international relations graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.
She then came to Washington, where her father, Henry F. Grady, was serving as an assistant secretary of state, and became a society writer for The Post.
In her columns "Top Hats and Tiaras" and "Now's the Time," she specialized in interviewing admirals and generals and wrote about cultural figures, such as dancer Martha Graham.
Mrs. Davies left The Post in 1943 after marrying Davies, who became one of the "China hands" at the State Department and who then was political adviser to Army Gen. Joseph W. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II.
She traveled with her husband and worked in decoding rooms in China and later in Moscow, when he became first secretary at the U.S. Embassy there after the war.
John Paton Davies was fired from the State Department in 1954 during a purge inspired by ill-informed members of Congress who sought diplomats to blame for the "loss" of China to communists.
Davies was fired though he was cleared of wrongdoing in several security hearings.
After Davies's firing, the couple operated a furniture business in Peru before returning to Washington, where they lived from 1964 to 1971. The State Department officially exonerated him in 1969.
During those Washington years, Mrs. Davies wrote a column, "Once Over Lightly," for the Rome Daily American newspaper. She also became a design consultant to William Pahlmann Associates Inc. in New York and Klein & Saks in Washington.
The couple later lived in Europe before settling in Asheville, where in the early 1980s, Mrs. Davies produced classical music and news programming at a public radio station.
Of her husband's ordeal at State, Mrs. Davies told The Post in 1969: "It's like standing in Rotterdam being bombed. When you are the target, your problems are tremendously simple. . . . It's harder for the people near you; they have the moral dilemmas about whether they should resign, should they have done more, things like that, all kinds of trauma.
"But we don't dwell on all that," she added. "Our lives are full. We live very much in the present."
Her husband of 57 years died Dec. 23. Survivors include six daughters, Patricia "Tiki" Davies of Washington, Alexandra "Sasha" Davies of White Plains, N.Y., Susan Davies of Chatham, N.Y., Jennifer Davies of Seattle, Megan Davies of New Orleans and Deborah Davies of London; a son, John Grady Davies of Baton Rouge, La.; a brother; and 11 grandchildren.
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