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Best of Land of 10,000 stories: Senior puts in pool for neighborhood kids

Lonely after the death of his wife, Keith Davison has filled his yard with children by installing a pool

MORRIS, Minn. — EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally aired on Aug. 14, 2017.

Peace and quiet seem like a good thing, until you’ve had too much. Keith Davison got his fill in the months that followed the death of his wife Evy.

“You just can’t imagine what it's like,” says Davison, who lost his wife to cancer in 2016 after a marriage of 66 years. “You cry a lot. That's just the way it is, because she's not here.”

But it’s not quiet at Davison’s house anymore. Late this spring the 94-year-old retired judge installed in his backyard an in-ground pool – then filled it with the neighborhood kids.

Pool time in 94-year-old Keith Davison's new backyard addition

“I knew they'd come,” says Davison, laughing.

Plenty of people thought he was kidding when Davison first floated the idea. His neighbor Jessica Huebner was among them. “This spring when I saw him marking the yard, I told my husband, he's really going to put a pool in his backyard.”

94-year-old retired judge Keith Davison shares time at his new pool with neighbor Jessica Huebner and her daughter Irelynn

Since the opening of the pool in July, Huebner and her four children have been regulars. “It's him spreading joy throughout our neighborhood for these kids,” Huebner says.

Davison’s backyard addition is no mere wading pool, at 32 feet long – and 9 feet deep under the diving board. It’s a welcome addition in a town that doesn’t have an outdoor public pool.

The backyard pool just installed by 94-year-old Keith Davison

“Now we’re going to be here every day,” says Jaime Mundal, a neighborhood mom.

Davison has three adult children, but no grandchildren. Huebner says she now tells her neighbor, “’You kind of adopted our whole neighborhood of kids, these are your grandkids.’”

As a dozen children giggle their way through diving board flips and pool volleyball, Davison sits nearby in the shade, enjoying the show from his lawn chair. His pool rules require a parent or grandparent also be present when children are swimming.

94-year-old Keith Davison watched the neighborhood children play in his new backyard pool

Davison says the kids won’t be having all the fun. He still enjoys swimming himself after the children have gone home.

Still, Davison is first to admit, from an economic standpoint, there’s no sense to be made of a 94-year-old installing a pool. He just doesn’t care. “I'm not sitting by myself looking at the walls,” he smiles. Besides, Davison asks, “What else would you think of doing where you could have a whole bunch of kids over every afternoon?”

Grief can be a deep, lonely place. Keith Davison took another step out, the day the neighborhood dove in.

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