The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In tribute: Dustin Davis persevered from young age

Friends knew the young officer as upbeat, inspirational.

 

Courtesy photo

Davis poses at a going-away party for former co-worker Maricsa Acuna in August.

CLOVIS — With persistence, kindness and high ambitions, Dustin Davis inspired his colleagues and friends and quickly made for himself a "blue family" at his job with Curry County's sheriff's office.

Sheriff Wesley Waller recalled his first interview with Davis, who joined CCSO at age 21 after three years working at the county jail. Waller said he "detected that Dustin was having difficulty hearing me and was reading my lips with each question." The young man then explained to the sheriff that some days earlier his car was burglarized and a gym bag containing his hearing aids had been stolen.

Yet that wouldn't keep him from the opportunity to advance his career while serving the public; Davis soon replaced the hearing aids and contacted the sheriff weeks later for another interview. By then, Waller had a good sense of the kind of person hoping to join his office.

"I learned he possessed the desire, passion and drive to overcome and achieve success," Waller wrote in an email to The News. "He did not receive many breaks during his short life, but you would never hear him complain or speak of his troubles. Instead, Dustin had learned how to overcome hardships and persevere in an inspirational way."

That perseverance neither started nor ended with that interview. Born in 1993 to a single mother in Lubbock, they came to Clovis two years later and at 15 Dustin started working two jobs during high school, including an overnight shift at a gas station.

All the while, he nurtured an early interest in the government and politics, joining the Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, Air Force JROTC and Curry County Teen Court. That's according to the text of a candidate biography Davis wrote "when he was contemplating a run for magistrate judge during this upcoming election," Waller said.

Those plans changed after he was diagnosed in the fall with end-stage renal failure, the kidney disease that took his life less than five months later.

It had started on a Friday night in October, first with a visit to the local ER and then to a hospital in Lubbock. With Davis' grandmother ailing, his mother in Texas and no immediate family in the area, his coworker and friend Chris Roper was among those to accompany him on those initial hospital visits as well as during home care and on later trips to Albuquerque to join a transplant list.

"He was told he was going to have to be put on dialysis. There was no choice," said Roper, who was Davis' direct supervisor when they were both CCSO transport officers. "Of course he took that hard, as any young man or person would. But he didn't give up. After talking with him, talking with the doctors, he was told 'We can fight this, you can keep going.'"

By that time, it was Davis' turn to receive some support. In the past several years working in the Curry County Courthouse, he became known for the encouragement he gave to his work family.

"He was always so upbeat and encouraging to everyone around him. He had a lot of pride in his job and what he did," said Assistant District Attorney Kristen Beltran, who started at the court soon after Davis. "He was one of those friends that after a long trial, whether it went my way or not, he would reach out to me and say 'I think you did a great job.'"

Maricsa Acuna knew Davis for six years since they started work together at the Curry County Adult Detention Center. As Acuna began taking pre-requisites for nursing school, Davis "always believed in (her)" and organized a going away party when she left CCSO in August, she said.

"Whatever he did it was to help others," Roper said. "He liked to see people smile and bring joy to them. It wouldn't be anything for him during a lunch break to buy three or four blizzards at Sonic and give them out to people at the office."

Roper had no shortage of similar examples from Davis: distributing handmade Christmas stockings to his coworkers on transport staff in his first year at the court, or investing in a good poker table for card games with his friends. Cards, skiing, recreational shooting and fishing were some of his favorite pastimes outside of work, which often overlapped with his personal life anyway.

"A lot of his friends came from his employment. He brought them into his circle and kind of made them family. He was just that kind of guy and always everyone's biggest supporter," Beltran said "He just kind of became part of the system itself, the courts. Not being able to see him every day, it's just a sad reminder of what a big loss we had just in the 9th Judicial Family."

Davis, of course, had ambitions of his own, and allowed his work in the court and jail to refine his understanding of the judicial system.

"He made friends with the judges, he would have hearty debates with them during the presidential race. He loved to learn, he loved to be along with it," Roper said. "I sensed a pride with it. Doing more than just for yourself; helping other people out. As with many people who go into public service, you're not going to make a lot of money out of it but you're making memories and you're helping other people."

Davis' drive continued through his illness, which he refused as much as possible to let "slow him down," Roper said. He continued working as he could and attending services at Faith Christian Family Church, sometimes tuning into the service remotely if he couldn't go out.

"He never did anything halfway. When he found something he enjoyed, he stuck with it all the way," Roper said. "If he was able to work (during his illness) and he was cleared to work he would work."

In spite of Davis' drive, and the support of his work family, come March 24 the disease "was just a fight he couldn't win," said Roper, who along with Acuna and others was among the pallbearers lined up for his funeral on Friday.

"Dustin considered his coworkers as family and was very close to many of the sheriff's office and detention center staffs," wrote Waller. "We will miss him daily and never forget his inspiration and friendship."

Or as Roper stated: "He had what we call the blue family — family in law enforcement."

 

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