Widow remembers fallen Pelham officer

Paula Davis, wife of slain police officer Philip Davis, views a wreath laid at her husband's grave during a police department ceremony last year. Dec. 4 will mark the two-year anniversary of Philip Davis' death. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

For the past two years, the Christmas season has been shrouded in the bittersweet memories of a loved one the Davis family lost too early.

Christmas carols, parades and lights have served to bring back memories of a fateful December day still haunting Alabaster resident Paula Davis, her two children and their friends and family members.

“We are reminded of it every second of every day,” Davis said. “When the kids ask me about their dad, I tell them to think about the stars in heaven and think of that as the light of their father watching from above.”

Early on the morning of Dec. 4, 2009, Paula Davis received a visit she never wanted to receive.

A team of police administrators, chaplains and other Pelham Police Department personnel arrived at the front door to tell Paula Davis her husband, Pelham police officer Philip Davis, had been shot and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 65.

After the shock of the news had subsided, Paula Davis’ mind started filling with memories of her husband she would never again experience.

“After we had (our daughter) Sarah, he would keep me updated about what they were doing throughout the day. He would send me pictures of her face covered in spaghetti sauce and everything else,” Paula Davis said.

When the Davis’ son, John, was born three years ago, Paula Davis said she and Philip Davis initially disagreed over what to name him.

“Archimedes is a family name, and that’s what Philip wanted to name our son. I thought that was an odd name,” Paula Davis said, noting the couple eventually settled on John Archimedes Davis. “It’s a delight to see that Philip got what he wanted.”

For the second anniversary of the date of Philip Davis’ death, the Pelham Police Department will display a wreath in the department’s main lobby before moving it to Davis’ grave in the Southern Heritage Cemetery in a private ceremony for officers and family members.

Pelham police Capt. Larry Palmer said the department has hosted a wreath-laying ceremony each year since Davis’ death to give the officers a chance to remember their fallen friend.

“It’s just an opportunity for them to come together and remember their comrade,” Palmer said.

This year, Davis’ family members and friends also will reflect on the recent death penalty sentence handed down to Davis’ killer, Bart Johnson. For Paula Davis, the sentence brought mixed emotions.

“I was glad for our family to know that Philip was not in the wrong, he was just doing his job. But I felt sad that his family had to share our ordeal,” Paula Davis said. “I try not to get angry. My life would be easier if (Johnson) was not here.”

After local residents worked to pay off the Davis family’s mortgage shortly after Philip Davis was killed, Paula Davis began forming the Philip Mahan Davis Foundation to help families of law enforcement officers in Shelby County.

“He was just a happy-go-lucky guy,” Paula Davis said. “He always brought a smile to my face and made me happy. He enjoyed life to the fullest.”