Dolly Abigail Davis was in kindergarten when her family settled in Kalamazoo. Before her death in 1997, she was recognized as being one of the oldest native residents.
Davis attended Central High School where she was allowed to participate in the school graduation activities but did not receive a diploma because she didn’t have a credit for physical education. Her mother did not allow her to participate in gym classes. In 1991, she was awarded a high school diploma, after the Board of Education waived a physical education requirement.
Davis married twice and had three children by her first husband. Her daughter, Martha, becam one of the first African Americans to work at Bell Telephone in the 1950s.
Davis’ mother had been a dressmaker with an interest in real estate and she followed in her mother’s footsteps. She became a dressmaker and owned a great deal of real estate. Davis worked as a costume mistress at the Civic Theatre, and did custom sewing. She later owned her own tailor shop and sewed for several prominent people in the city. She became a licensed real estate broker in 1977 and owned a large segment of property on West Main. Dolly Davis died in 1997.