Youth advocate Henry Davison dies

Davison founded Cedar Rapids' HD Youth Center

Henry Davison (left), laughs with Beverly Christner of Cedar Rapids at Davison's surprise party for his 75th birthday at
Henry Davison (left), laughs with Beverly Christner of Cedar Rapids at Davison’s surprise party for his 75th birthday at the HD Youth Center in southeast Cedar Rapids. (Gazette file)

Henry Davison, an advocate for Cedar Rapids youth and founder of the HD Youth Center, has died.

“People will remember him as an innovator and a driven person,” said Steve Springer, chairman of the center’s board. “ ... He was a pillar of the community, and he was unstoppable.”

Davison, 92, opened the nonprofit HD Youth Center in 1997 to give children a safe place to go after school, as well as tutoring, mentoring and meals.

He supported the children and teenagers at the center while holding them to high standards, Springer said. When the 2008 flood closed the safe haven, Davison fought to reopen the center in 2013 at 1445 Mount Vernon Road SE.

Although his health at times kept him from the center, Davison remained committed to Cedar Rapids youth throughout his life.

“I think Henry will be with us,” Springer said. “He’ll be with the youth center forever — and with me forever, too. He’s one of those people we’ll remember.”

In a social media post, HD Youth Center Director Ishmael Tureaud said Davison was “a philanthropist, a humanitarian, a father to many, an inspiration, a legacy in (his) own.”

“There are so many stories we have heard of how you helped many children, many parents of children but most of all, many people,” Tureaud, who spent time as a child at the center, said in a Facebook post.


Born in 1927 in Jackson, Miss., Davison’s life was “quite the story,” said Springer, who helped Davison write his 2018 book, “Henry Davison: You Can Be What You Want To Be.”

Funeral services have not yet been announced.

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