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Joanne Davidson

It’s Never Too Late to Gratefully Embrace the Gifts Life Gives You

Joanne Davidson was relaxing in front of her TV one evening when she saw an ad for submissions to become a contestant on the Golden Bachelor. Well why not, she thought to herself. She filled out an application, sending in a couple headshots but skipping the requested full body photo (At 76? she thought, Oh please!). Whether it was due to the photo omission or her age (she is four years older than the bachelor), her application went no further, much to her relief as soon as her moment of impulsivity passed. The fact is that Joanne isn’t looking for a bachelor, golden or otherwise; she likes her quiet but fulfilling life of journalism work and neighborhood walks and dogs and the occasional peanut butter sandwich for dinner just the way it is.

Joanne started out as a curious kid. Each day after school, she would read through each of the many newspapers her parents sold at their San Francisco Bay Area grocery store, just to find out more about the world around her. Despite that insatiable curiosity, it was a clerical error rather than intention that got Joanne her own start in journalism, the field that would be her profession and passion for decades to come. She had signed up for Advanced English, but the new computer system at her high school put her in Advanced Journalism instead. She decided to give it a shot and, by the time she had her first byline, she was hooked.

Her mother was skeptical of sending her daughter off to college as a journalism major, convinced Joanne would find a husband rather than complete her degree and the money would be wasted. Joanne compromised with her parents, starting with two years of studying journalism at community college, where she proved to them her dedication, and transferred to San Francisco State to complete her degree. There she was thrust into the chaos of the San Francisco of the late 1960s and a whole new level of challenge with the stories she was assigned. She had just been lambasted by an editor, a man who minced no words expressing his displeasure with the article she submitted, when a young man on the student newspaper’s staff pulled her aside. He had read her article too and thought there was plenty of good material there to work with; it just needed a few tweaks. That man was John Davidson, and soon after she completed her journalism degree, he and Joanne were married.

Joanne landed her first reporting job at a small local paper by pretending she knew far more about the newspaper business than she did, hoping her skills would catch up. Luckily for Joanne, she was a quick study, and what she didn’t know she learned as she rose through the ranks of that first small newspaper, then went on to a larger one in a bigger city, eventually moving from covering the local school board to City Hall to becoming the paper’s high society reporter.

Covering black tie events was fun, but after seven years in that role, Joanne wanted more substance. She found that at US News and World Report, where she was hired as their San Francisco Bureau Chief. It was a dream job, full of ever changing subject matters, which made it all the harder to leave when her husband told her he had just been offered a position in Colorado. Joanne was reluctant to move, not only because she didn’t want to leave her job but also because she had never wanted to live anywhere other than California, but leave she did and, after a brief period of experimentation with being a housewife (that didn’t last more than a month) she found a position with the Denver Post, the paper that would be her professional home for the next 29 years.

Today, having lost her husband in 2020 following a painful period of decline, Joanne lives happily in her adopted home state of Colorado with her two beloved dogs. She still writes full time, but sets her own schedule, leaving her free to walk each day the sidewalks aren’t icy and to allow herself the time to reflect on the many wonderful opportunities that have, she says, simply fallen into her lap. She often thinks about an ongoing conversation she has with her college roommate, pondering whether life is determined by fate or destiny. She has never been able to answer that question. What she does know is that she is grateful for the way her life has unfolded, and she intends to hold that gratitude closely as she continues to move through what she knows has been a blessed life.

It’s never too late to gratefully embrace the gifts life gives you.