Sher Davidson: At Eighty

Some years ago, when she was in her sixties, she told me, Sher Davidson attended a conference for women in business, where each participant was asked to stand in turn and give a five-minute presentation on her life and accomplishments. When Sher sat down, the younger women sitting on either side of her gushed, “Wow, how did you manage to do all those things in just six decades?!”

When I heard this story, I thought: Those women should see Sher today.

Sher Davidson at eighty

Last week Sher, who now lives outside of Portland, Orgeon, USA, celebrated her eightieth birthday; and her list of accomplishments is longer and more impressive than ever.

In her eight decades she’s worn many hats, she told me – among them: entrepreneur, painter, sculptor, jewelry designer, wife, mother, teacher, world traveler, and travel writer. In recent years she has created a nonprofit organization and written two novels, so we can now add “philanthropist” and “novelist” to that long list.

Her newest book, a historical novel titled Dark Secrets, will be published soon. Set during the Second World War in Oregon, France, and Sweden, it is based on the secrets Sher learned from her Swedish relatives about Sweden’s role in that war.

Her previous novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun, published in 2014, is what she calls “a late-in-life love story wrapped around the issue of immigration.” Her first book, Europe with Two Kids and a Van (1973) chronicles her young family’s adventures tootling around Europe in 1972 in a VW bus when her two daughters were preschoolers.

But the accomplishment Sher is proudest of – what she would like to consider her legacy – is birthing the nonprofit Latin American Relief Fund to support a shelter helping migrants and refugees in Mexico.

“I am most proud of that,” she told me, “but I also remind myself that ‘it takes a village.’ Choosing a talented board to carry on the work when I no longer can has been an important accomplishment, too.”

Since its inception in 2018, the Latin American Relief Fund has raised more than $200,000 to support migrants and refugees in Mexico by providing a temporary stay in a safe environment known as the ABBA House in Celaya. “Abba” means “father” in Aramaic and reflects the caring nature of its  founder, Pastor Ignacio, who provides the migrants with food, shelter, medical and psychological assistance, and help in applying for asylum in Mexico.

When I asked Sher what has sustained her throughout these creative endeavors and important accomplishments, she said, “The love of my family — my husband of fifty-seven years, and my daughters and grandchildren. Knowing they are there at my back helps sustain me in dark times, or when I am so tired I begin to doubt myself and my projects. Friends, too, are so much a part of success. They help bolster me when the ‘blockades’ in my path seem impassable.”

As I often do in my WOW interviews, I asked Sher what she has found to be some of the advantages of advanced age. She answered:

“The wisdom to know when to stop and smell the roses! Sometimes, though, even now I have to remind myself to do that. I’ve been blessed with a lot of energy and an adventuresome spirit; and fortunately, I’ve been able to travel to many countries and experience many cultures – the most recent being living for fifteen years in the beautiful town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, from 2006 to 2021. Maybe most fortunate, is the courage to keep on going — knowing there are usually rewards around the corner — even when the going is tough.”

And, of course, I had to know: If she were to give a commencement address to the graduating class at a women’s college, what would the thrust of her message be?

“Seek happiness in your personal lives, then spread that happiness into the public sphere,” Sher told me. “Thrive and help others to thrive. If you seek financial success, be sure to share the wealth. If you seek praise, give it to others – pass it forward.”

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