Cover photo for Judy Jo (Dittbrenner)  Davis's Obituary
Judy Jo (Dittbrenner)  Davis Profile Photo
1932 Judy 2020

Judy Jo (Dittbrenner) Davis

June 29, 1932 — August 1, 2020


Judy Jo Dittbrenner Davis was born on June 29th, 1932 at Riverview Hospital in Noblesville, Indiana. Her mother, Doris Dean Howell Dittbrenner was born on in Danville, Indiana and her father, Hilmer Henry Dittbrenner, was born in Michigan City, Indiana.

Judy grew up in Noblesville, the only child of the town's only dentist, and attended local schools in town, graduating from Noblesville High School in 1950. A good student, she was also the starting center for the girls’ basketball team - as her father had been, on the boys’ team at Michigan City High.

Although it was not her parents’ first choice, she decided to leave and attend Indiana University, graduating in 1954 with a degree as a speech and hearing therapist. A big part of her college life – and her life for 50 years thereafter - was her membership at the IU chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. At the Kappa house, and through other IU sororities, she met many women - and their future husbands -who became lifelong friends including her closest friend Rosemary and Charles Lanham

It was also during her time at IU and the Kappa house that she met James E. “Jim” Davis Jr. Jim was a graduate student in the IU Speech and Hearing department and had served in the army in the Korean War. Judy and Jim were married on November 13, 1954 at the Presbyterian church in Noblesville and moved into an apartment on Talbot Street in Indianapolis.

Judy and Jim worked together as teachers at the Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis. In 1956 Jim took a job at RCA, at their Emerson Avenue plant. Judy continued to work as a teacher.

Also during this time, along with teaching part-time, Judy got involved in various charitable efforts, most particularly with the Indianapolis Children's Bureau Auxiliary and through them with what became the Indianapolis Children's Museum. She was involved with the group for many years, hosting or working on events and programs, serving on committees, and later as the organization's Auxiliary President. Additionally, she was an active member of The Indianapolis Propylaeum, the Fortnightly Literary Club, and The Doer’s Club.

Before having children, Jim and Judy got Sorgen, the first of several Collie dogs that the family had over the years. After the test-drive experience of owning a dog, they eventually had a son, Eric Emmett Davis, born on December 16th, 1960 in Indianapolis.

Shortly before Eric’s arrival, Judy and Jim bought a house on East 82nd Street in Indianapolis. In 1964 along with their friends Marilyn and Jack Pecsok, and with the help from Doris and Hilmer, they bought land on East 75th Street and had a new home built for them, which they moved into on May 8th 1966. While the home was being built, they left the 82nd Street house and lived in a rental house on East 43rd Street. Terra firma for Judy was the northeast side of Indianapolis; she lived there in four homes over 60 years.

In 1968 they added a daughter Emily Dean Davis, born March 5th 1968, in Indianapolis.

During their time on at East 75th Street, Judy played host to and was involved in a broad but close social circle, which grew out of her and Jim’s time at IU. A number of IU couples, in some cases where the wife was also a Kappa, met socially regularly and shared their lives for decades. These exceptional friendships were maintained “through thick and thin” and defined the couples’ and families’ social lives for over 50 years. One structure in addition to occasional multi-family gatherings and vacations was their “Bridge Club”. Started as a regular meeting where Bridge was actually played, it became regular social gatherings without the distractions (or inevitable competitions) of the game this led to many famous (or infamous) cocktail parties.

It also led to another social structure in Indianapolis at the time, the M.A.F.I.A. (Mothers And Fathers In Action). Judy and Jim were one of the original couples of the M.A.F.I.A., whose activities were a calendar of themed parties often of an outlandish yet always entertaining nature. A “Star Wars” party, a “M.A.S.H.” party, a toga party, a pirate party, and multiple gangster themed parties, complete with tommy guns and shoot-outs, because a centerpiece in the high-society social scene in Indianapolis in the 1970s. No actual arrests were made, but many were simulated, and even some with the winking cooperation of one or more members of local law enforcement!

In 1970, after getting laid off by RCA where he had worked for 14 years, Jim and Judy bought and took over the Benham-Pray Company. Judy became a regular part of the company, an advertising specialties firm with clients that included RCA, Ticor Title, NAPA Auto Parts, and FC Tucker & Company.

The centerpieces of Judy’s life were her family and longtime close friends. Even up to the week of her passing, a cherished hug from a great-grandson, a visit or Facebook call from a grandchild, or a chat with one of the women she’d shared so much of her life with, illuminated her days.

In 2009, Judy and Jim downsized, moving from the house in the woods that they built on 75th Street to their own place on Newport Bay Drive, in the same vicinity, barely two miles away. Here she and Jim lived out the rest of their days, with frequent visits from friends and family. Jim died there on September 10, 2014; his caregiver Bea became Judy’s treasured friend. Judy passed away in the same house, in the same room as her husband, on August 1, 2020.

She is survived by her daughter, Emily Dean Norris; son Eric (Suzanne) Davis; her adoring grandchildren, Gabrielle (Austin) Judith Davis, Zoë Alexandra Norris, John Emmett Davis, Michael Gavin Norris, and Kevin Eric Davis; and her two great grandsons who had become the light of her life, Marcus Dean and Liam James Davis.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Children’s Bureau, Inc. at 1575 Dr MLK Jr St.

Indianapolis, IN 46202 or to The Indianapolis Propylaeum at 1410 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

A time of visitation will be held on Friday, August 7, 2020 from 10 AM to 12 noon at A.R.N Funeral & Cremation Services – 11411 North Michigan Road, Zionsville, IN 46077. We ask that friends and family wear face coverings while in attendance.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Judy Jo (Dittbrenner) Davis, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

10:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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