Lessie Davison passed away July 16, 201 at her home on John’s Island after a long illness.
She turned the formerly run-down Homestead Inn into a New York Times 3-star restaurant and leading country inn after purchasing the property in Greenwich, Conn., with her husband, Charles Hamilton Davison, in 1977. The Homestead was twice named Best Inn in America, was featured in a radio campaign for the American Express Card, spotlighted in a 30-minute Travel Channel special, and written up in Fortune, Forbes, and Architectural Digest, among other publications.
A Florida native, she lived in St. Petersburg until her marriage on Aug. 16, 1958.
She was the daughter of Willie Mae Lang Wade, who was a long time teacher at St. Petersburg High School and member emeritus of St. Petersburg’s Best Groomed. Lessie was the stepdaughter of St. Petersburg businessman L.N. Wade.
She graduated from St. Petersburg High School, class of 1947, where she was named in the yearbook as “Most Likely to Succeed,” and then from Florida State University in 1951, with a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Library Science.
She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority while at FSU, and worked as librarian at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York.
She was President of the Providence Junior League and held several leadership positions in Chicago Junior League. She was a member of the Colonial Dames and Daughter of the Confederacy. She was also listed in Who’s Who of America, and was a Member of the Hotel Owners and Inns of America.
She was a member or former member of Indian Hill Club and Glenview Club in Winnetka, Ill., The Belle Haven Club and Round Hill Club in Greenwich, The Dunes Club in Narragansett, R.I., and The John’s Island Club in Vero Beach.
A voracious reader, accomplished chef, avid bridge player, and highly skilled crossword puzzler, her friendships in St. Petersburg, Rhode Island, Chicago and Vero Beach were legion, as was her passion for photo safaris to Africa, which she enjoyed on 7 different occasions. She and her husband, Charles Hamilton Davison, who died in 2000, will be interred together at Royal Palm Cemetery at an open service at 10 a.m. on July 23 in St. Petersburg.
Lessie is survived by her stepbrother Fred Wade and wife Gail of Klamath Falls, Ore., sons (and their wives) C. Hamilton Davison (and Dotsy Davison) of Providence, R.I., J. Lang Davison (and M.J. Davison) of Portland, Ore., and Andrew B. Davison (and Brooke H. Davison) of Boulder, Colo. Also, grandchildren Carter, William, and, Laura Davison of Providence, Kiersten and Keilan Davison of Portland, Miller, Chase, and Lang Davison, of Boulder.
also, nephew Brooks H. Davison of New York City, niece Laurie Davison of Gainesville and sister-in-law Jacqueline Davison of Gainesville.
A funeral service is planned for July 23 at 10 a.m. at the Royal Palm Cemetery in St. Petersburg, with a reception immediately following at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her name to Trinity Episcopal Church in Vero Beach.