Linda Davies inducted into Palliser Wall of Fame

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Linda Davies receives her scroll from Wall of Fame Committee Chair, and teacher, Michael Saad during the Wall of Fame induction ceremony.

Bucket lists aren’t just for those counting down their days. For Linda Davies, writing down her ‘to-do list’ led to one of the defining moments of her life.

It was American humorist and writer Mark Twain who said the two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.

“I think the day I set foot in Africa - there, with my daughter – I found out why. There’s just something that tugged at my heart. . . ” says Davies, whose volunteer work on that continent for the last dozen years has earned her a place on Palliser Regional Schools’ Wall of Fame.

Joining the Picture Butte High School graduate as a 2019 inductee into the Wall of Fame was Perry Kotkas, a former Barons School student recognized for his achievements in the field of geophysics. The two were recognized during the Opening Day ceremony for Palliser staff.

Davies had been busy raising a family and operating several businesses in both her hometown of Picture Butte and Lethbridge as the millennium year approached. Given that momentous occasion, she wrote down a bucket list of things she wanted to achieve. 

Atop her list of 25 ‘to-do’ items was volunteering in Africa, and in 2008 Davies and her oldest daughter set off to volunteer at an orphanage in Tanzania for five weeks. It was the experience of a lifetime and they both shed tears on their final day there.

“The little things that we take for granted, excited them beyond description,” says Davies, who has come to be known as ‘Momma Linda’ by those appreciative youth. “It was the look on their faces that I will never forget, when they turned on a light switch and saw the light go on, or the proud look when they put on that school uniform for the first time.”

Although they vowed to do more to help, Davies couldn’t have realized at the time she’d return to Africa upwards of two dozen times to build a new orphanage, help build playgrounds and equip schools, sponsor almost 50 children, and build homes for two families. She also provides feet-on-the-ground support for the Bridges of Hope relief and development network as project manager in Tanzania.

Davies considers induction into Palliser’s Wall of Fame for her humanitarian service a “huge honour.” When first approached, however, she considered gratefully declining the offer.

“In the back of my mind, helping people and being kind – volunteering – is something we should all do. So to be recognized for something that we should all be doing, to me, was very hard to accept,” she says, adding her children convinced her otherwise.

Davies cherishes the support Picture Butte and the southern Alberta community has provided her over the years. That includes the impact teachers like Brian Ellefson had on her life.

She calls her English teacher at PBHS one of the “kindest and nicest” teachers she ever had. He was always positive and smiling and made learning fun.

“He absolutely loved what he did, so he proved to me it’s important to do what you love and love what you do,” says Davies. “I think I got that from him.”

She received a similar message and other words of wisdom from Oprah. The No. 2 item on the bucket list for the avid and lifelong fan of the then-talk show host was to attend an Oprah show.

Despite numerous attempts to apply for tickets as an audience member for the hugely-popular TV show, Davies was shut out until Oprah’s last season on the air and a special show dedicated to her ultimate viewers. In her application she pointed out how Oprah had inspired her to volunteer in Africa. Davies was one of 200,000 applicants for the show and one of only four of the 300 member audience to have her story featured on air.

Afterwards the host flew the entire audience to Australia for a 10-day adventure. Davies would later earn a personal invite to join Oprah at the girls’ school she and Nelson Mandela had founded in South Africa. It was there Oprah advised Davies to do what makes her happy – and not what makes others happy – and emphasized the importance of starting small and working your way up.

The goal of Palliser Regional Schools’ Wall of Fame is to celebrate the success of former students and staff, but also to inspire the students of today and tomorrow. If asked for advice, she would encourage those students to shoot for the stars.

“Dream big and don’t let anyone squash your dreams,” says Davies, who also checked off another bucket list item by learning a second language – Swahili. “Anything is possible, even for a small town girl like me who grew up in Picture Butte. Dreams come true, but you have to work hard to make it happen.”

In addition to her volunteer efforts there, Davies has been sharing the natural wonders of Tanzania for the last three years as owner of her own safari company. When she is not in Africa, she enjoys spending time with her children Lisa, Andi and Mike, and grandchildren Cooper, Vincent and Madilyn.

To view biographies of past Wall of Fame inductees, go to