- Gracie Bonds Staples The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Amanda Davis was remembered Wednesday as the caring, giving person she was.
If you had the privilege of meeting her or even if you didn’t, friends and family said, love was the hallmark of her life.
That life was celebrated during an hourlong service at Cascade United Methodist Church, where the television news anchor was a member.
Davis, 62, died a day after suffering a massive stroke Dec. 26 while waiting to board a flight at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
My last face-to-face encounter with her was May 2016 when she opened up about her alcohol addiction.
If that’s why you’re reading this, you won’t find more than that here. Amanda Davis was far more than her imperfections.
She was a daughter, a mom and a friend. She was warm, poised, humble. We talked for more than a hour. She cried remembering the moment her daughter dropped her off at The Canyon to face her addiction. Daughters weren’t supposed to do that sort of thing for their moms, she said.
“That was my midnight,” Davis told me.
People think we reporters are good at what we do if we manage to draw tears from our subjects and from you. I just think we’re human and realize the best stories often lie where we dare not tread.
It’s asking the hard questions and really opening up your heart to hear the answer.
If ever there was a time when the answer sank deep inside of me and remained there, it was when I interviewed Amanda Davis back in 2016.
The pain of leaving her daughter that night, the rejection she felt from the man she believed she’d one day marry would weigh on me like a heavy overcoat. I understood.
Much of what she shared with me that day didn’t make it into the final version of the column I wrote, but I could never bring myself to just discard them as I do with other stories. I stored the file on a desktop instead and opened it again to read only after I heard of her death.
I was struck once again by the role faith had played in her life and how much she regretted having allowed her relationship with the man she loved to get between her and her place of worship.
“I let it pull me away from the church, the place where I got the nourishment and the positive reinforcement I needed most, the place where I grew up,” she told me.
Church, she said, was also the place that gave her a platform to speak publicly, saying Easter speeches and doing the announcements on youth Sunday at her grandma’s church in San Antonio.
“That’s how I ended up in this business,” she said.
All that public speaking helped her hone her gift. Her faith helped her heal and made her willing to risk even more negative publicity by sharing her story.
“God uses us to help others,” she said. “Besides, not everyone has this platform.”
For years, she said she’d been hearing “let go and let God work.”
“I didn’t understand it then, but I know for sure now not just that God is real but that he loves us unconditionally and he’s faithful.”
As we finished that day, she told me that she had reclaimed her faith and was back in church.
Therein lay Amanda Davis’ strength, the thing that enabled her to regain her footing and endure the criticism and negative publicity.
The Rev. Kevin R. Murriel recalled near the end of the service getting a text from Davis back in August, in which she wanted to know a Scripture reference to a sermon he’d preached four years earlier.
That Scripture — Psalm 40 — had become her testimony.
Through her life, Murriel said, she proclaimed how God can take our pain and create promise.
“Pain has a way of removing the veil,” he said.
If we live long enough, every one of us will find ourselves in a pit, Murriel said. Pits don’t discriminate. Whether you’re in a public pit, like Amanda Davis’, or a private one, the pit is the same. Amanda Davis acknowledged her own personal pit. The challenge for us is not to become so self-righteous that we judge and criticize others. Just as the Psalm said, God had brought Amanda back, set her upon a rock, established her steps and re-established her faith.
Murriel said that when Amanda returned to CBS46 that Amanda had joy, she loved being on air and being able to touch people’s lives in a positive way. And although she could interview presidents and hang with celebrities, she didn’t worship her platform; she knew it was a gift.