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Canfield man celebrates 90 years

CANFIELD — Barney Davidson greeted each and every person who waved, respectfully laid a present and tooted their car horn on Tuesday as they helped him celebrate a milestone.

Davidson turned 90 after a lifetime of community service.

“To have so many friends and people … It’s just wonderful,” he said. “It shows that I’ve lived a good life.”

That good life began at 2121 Belmont Ave. in Youngstown, when Davidson was born in his grandparents’ house with the name Alfred.

“So many people ask me, ‘where did you get that name Barney?'” he said.

When Davidson was a newborn and would cry, his grandfather would refer to him as Barney Oldfield, a race car driver at the time.

The name stuck, he said.

At age 6, Davidson moved to Boardman, going to school in the district.

He was an EMT and dispatcher, joining the Boardman Fire Department in 1955, and in 1993 he joined the Beaver Township Fire Department, retiring in 2013. Along the way, he taught Sunday school, too.

Deciding he wasn’t quite ready to sit idle, Davidson began working with kindergarten and first graders in the South Range school district.

The decisions to be active in his community were simple: Davidson enjoys people.

“You have to love people in order to get involved. And I have,” he said.

A fun fact about Davidson, according to procession organizer Jim Dorman, is that his friend is known to have knitted afghans for infants and expectant teachers in the South Range district.

Davidson picked up the skill when a friend battled breast cancer. She enlisted him to help as she would knit.

It was another friend who took his knitting lessons a step further, Davidson said, teaching him to knit intricately to form various blankets.

“I just totally love what I’ve done,” Davidson said.

Davidson was married to Bernadine for 54 years before her death 10 years ago.

Together they had three kids: Skip, Ted and Paul. He has grandkids sprinkled throughout the country, Davidson said.

Dorman and Davidson met through town and community events, but their friendship solidified when Dorman began working in the lawn and garden department at Sears in Boardman, where Davidson worked.

“We spent a few years together until I got moved to another department,” Doeman said.

Dorman was with the Boardman Fire Department at that time, although Davidson had moved on when Dorman decided to test for assistant chief.

That’s when his friend Davidson honored him. “He wanted me to take his badges and wear them,” Dorman said.

He also told Dorman that he would make it as an assistant chief — “and he did,” Davidson recalled.

“I never thought I’d reach this,” Davidson said, gesturing to the tent and balloons set up around him, waving to vehicles as they blared their horns from state Route 11, which is near where the procession was held.

“Reaching this age is one thing, but also not believing people would want to help him celebrate — I think that’s one thing that’s got him floored,” Dorman said.

“I can’t begin to tell you how great it is,” Davidson said.

afox@tribtoday.com

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