Many who knew Priscilla Daves recall her fearlessness, whether in reporting stories or advocating for doctors.
At 71, Daves, former communications director for the Medical Association of Georgia and journalist at The Times, died of complications from COVID-19 on April 15.
Phil Hudgins, who worked as the city editor at The Times when she was a reporter, remembers Daves as a journalist who knew her rights and stood her ground.
“Priscilla could turn out the copy,” he said. “And no one was going to run her over.”
When Hurricane Elena was threatening to hit Pensacola, Florida, in 1985, Hudgins said someone reached out to The Times for help covering the storm. Daves and Hudgins had an hour to pack and travel to the Atlanta airport.
“I don't think covering a hurricane fazed Priscilla a bit,” he said. "She probably found it exciting.”
In addition to her positions at The Times and Medical Association of Georgia, Daves worked at the Jackson Herald and The Savannah Morning News, after earning a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.
Teresa Sauls, her sister, said before Daves moved to a long-term care facility because of health challenges, she lived on a 107-acre farm in Jefferson.
Daves enjoyed taking care of her cats and dogs, but Sauls said one passion trumped all the rest — watermelons.
“Her whole house was watermelons,” she said. “She loved to eat them, and it just grew into a collection. Everything was decorated in watermelons, she had purses, scarves, hats, shoes, bowls, glasses, sheets, curtains.”
In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Political Insider Blog, CB Hackworth described Daves as “uniquely qualified,” for her role in representing the Medical Association of Georgia’s 6,000-member physician group in the ‘90s.
“As a longtime, award-winning journalist, she had long navigated the halls and back rooms of the Gold Dome with unusual familiarity, rubbing elbows with the state’s most powerful lawmakers,” Hackworth wrote.
“She made no qualms about it – and said as much in 1992, when the medical association was criticized for its $3,500 donation to a Political Action Committee set up to benefit House Speaker Tom Murphy, even though he was unopposed for re-election.”
Sauls said her sister made many interesting connections through her time at the Medical Association of Georgia, including a close friendship with Regina Benjamin, former U.S. surgeon general.
She remembers when Daves and Benjamin showed up at her house to enjoy a batch of homemade biscuits.
“Regina visited with her to find out what real Southern cooking was,” she said.
Sauls recalls that her sister was very active in her local Rotary Club as well as the Crawford W. Long Museum, where she served on the board of directors.
Among many other accolades, Daves was named Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Georgia Wildlife Federation and received the Jack Lindsay “Service Above Self” award from the Jefferson Rotary Club.
“She was extremely driven,” Sauls said. “She had a lot of hopes and dreams, and achieved most of them.”
A memorial service is not possible at this time, but will be held at a later date. Donations in her memory can be made to the Crawford W. Long Museum at 28 College St., Jefferson GA 30549 or at crawfordlong.org.