Mere miles shouldn’t be used to measure the career of Hurley Davis has Greenwood.
Davis, 73, is winding down his 45th and perhaps final year as bus driver for Woodmen boys basketball teams.
“Hurley is Mr. Greenwood,” said David Walden, who worked 30 years at Greenwood Community High School in assorted teaching and coaching capacities before being named athletics director at Edinburgh in 2013. “He just loves the school and the community.”
Even a 1973 Greenwood product like Woodmen boys basketball coach Bruce Hensley has a hard time evoking specifics of his pre-Hurley athletics career.
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Davis, the head of the school system’s maintenance department since Jan. 1, 1979, was at the wheel for Hensley the teenager the same way he is for the adult version who has recorded 241 career victories as a coach.
“I’d say I was 13 or 14 years old when I first met Hurley,” Hensley said. “I don’t know how this school system is going to function when he decides to leave. He knows everything, knows everybody and is very reliable.”
Mr. Greenwood indeed.
Handy at an early age
Davis, Orval and Juanita Davis’ only child, has been fascinated with Lionel trains for as long as he remembers. He used to turn the second floor of the family residence at 300 N. Meridian St. in Greenwood into his own personal train station.
By the time he was 12, Davis was already proficient turning a wrench.
“My dad ran a garage in Greenwood, O.R. Davis Garage, on Broadway from 1943 to 1979, so that’s part of it,” said Davis, a 1960 Greenwood High School graduate.
Whether he’s discussing car engines, heaters or electrical systems, Davis eventually leaves those within earshot exchanging baffled looks, shoulder shrugs or both. He knows that much.
“Hurley and I are friends from when I first came to Greenwood at 22 or 23 years old. He was a Ford fanatic who along with his papa worked on and restored Fords,” said Len Scotten, 80, Greenwood’s head football coach from 1958-68 and again from 1981-96.
“He just did everything for the school.”
Laughing, Scotten added, “My favorite story about Hurley is he would always have parts left over when he was done fixing something. But it always worked. I’m very fond of Hurley, I’ll tell you that.”
Davis transported Greenwood football teams to and from road destinations for 45 seasons before deciding the 2013 season would be his last.
He also drove Woodmen baseball teams during the earlier part of his career, beginning his lengthy tenure as driver for some of the school’s boys programs basically out of necessity.
“I was the only one available most of the time because the other guys owned businesses and stuff, and they weren’t able to drive. I needed the money. I think back then you got a dollar-and-a-half an hour, and back then they paid cash,” Davis said.
“As a driver you’ve got to be on time. You’ve got to be ready for any kind of weather you’re going to encounter because it’s Indiana, of course. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s an awful lot of responsibility.”
Davis considers the football program’s 13-0 Class 4A regional win at Evansville Bosse in 1988 — the first of two regional titles in school history — the pinnacle of his gridiron road trips.
“We won the regional and lost the semistate to Franklin Central the next week,” Davis said. “That trip to Evansville, it was a mud bowl that night, was about a three-hour drive.”
Davis digs into his razor-sharp memory for only a few seconds before unearthing the worst of boys basketball roadies.
“Probably the Greensburg game in the 1974-75 season. We came back in about 7 inches of snow, and it took us until about 3:30 in the morning to get back. It started snowing there, and I-74 wasn’t cleaned off. Everybody was in the ditches,” Davis said.
“A few of the nights I got back here was in blizzards or fog you would have thought was pea soup as thick as it was.”
What the future holds
Davis and his wife, Sarah, celebrated 51 years of marriage this past Sept. 14.
Parents of two grown children — a third, son, Mike, died in a motorcycle crash July 23, 2010, at age 42 — and six grandchildren, the couple soon will be able to spend every moment as they please.
For Hurley, that means hours under the hood of any of his 24 automobiles — 21 Fords, two Mercury products and a 1929 Studebaker.
“I’m going to work on my cars. I’ve got them in Fairland, and some at a couple of rental houses in a garage I don’t rent,” Davis said.
And, of course, there are his cherished Lionel trains prepared to help Davis retrace the footsteps of his youth in what was a much less-complicated Greenwood.
The Greenwood of the 1950s.
“When you retire you’re faced with the idea you are going to die. It may be quicker than you think or it may be longer than you think,” Davis said. “I won’t say for sure this is my last year, but more than likely it is. I’ve got to give it up sometime.”
Left behind will be a school system the lesser for it.
THE DAVIS FILE
Name: Hurley Davis
Family: Wife, Sarah; daughter, Sherri Baker, 48; sons, Mike (deceased) and Hurley C., 42
Favorite TV show: “The Waltons”
Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese
Favorite movie: “American Graffiti”
Favorite athlete: Ted Williams
Favorite team: Detroit Tigers