Friends, Family Remember Alumni Killed in UAH Shooting

February 23, 2010
By Chris Richter

Funerals for Adriel Johnson ’89 PHD and Maria Ragland Davis ’85 MS, ’92 PHD were held Friday and Saturday, respectively. The NC State alumni were killed Feb. 12 in a shooting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). The Huntsville Times has provided ongoing coverage of the tragedy and wrote about the memorial services for Davis and Johnson, who were both professors in UAH’s biology department.

From the story on Johnson:

Johnson was an Eagle scout and assistant scoutmaster of Troop 102.

“We’re not here because somebody died, but because someone lived,” said the state Boy Scout staff member. “When we look between the dashes of 1957 and 2010, we can understand why so many are here.”

An overflow crowd attended the service at the church on Winchester Road. Officials from virtually every area college attended the service, some from as far away as the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“When we look between the dashes, we see a visionary,” the state Boy Scout official said. “We see a leader for his role as a role model and mentor. We can see so many Boy Scouts he poured his life into. His legacy on earth will be carried out by those he touched.

“Because of that spirit, we’ll have better husbands, better fathers and better community leaders.”

Johnson’s youngest son, Jeriel, recalled how his father supported him in sports.

“He was always there,” he said. “I can still see him when I finished a race in cross country. He was there to shake my hand and say ‘good job,” even if I finished in the middle.”

From the story on Davis:

He said “fear” was not in Davis’ vocabulary and that she was a take-charge person.

Roderick Ragland, Davis’ brother, said his sister loved teaching, research and her family, but was also “a little bit eccentric.”

He said that as children growing up in Detroit, her pet duck following them everywhere made it difficult for him to build up his tough guy image in the neighborhood.

Davis was happy when she was cooking, with her dog or with good company.

“When she was happy, her smile and laugh would light up a whole room,” Ragland said.

But, he said, she was also stubborn and persistent. She wouldn’t leave school at North Carolina State University and come home to Detroit after learning she had breast cancer, despite pleas from Ragland and their father, he said.

“Not many people know she was a breast cancer survivor,” Ragland said.

Talitha Caudle, a graduate student at UAH, said Davis always had time for her and always made her feel special.

“Dr. Davis’ served as a source of inspiration to so many of us and will always be my role model,” Caudle said.

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