Wilson mourns beloved custodian Derick Davis


Photo courtesy of Brandon Hall

Ethan Leifman

Derick Davis, who worked at Wilson as a night custodian since June 2016, died last weekend. He was 36 years old. His untimely death shocked Wilson’s close-knit custodial staff.

Davis lived in Northeast DC and grew up in nearby Capitol Heights, Maryland. He was a graduate of Gwynn Park High School, and later attended the Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia. He also took classes at Prince George’s Community College and UDC.

First and foremost, Davis will be remembered as a committed father of three sons. “Derick was a real nice young man-–he was a family man. He was always there for his children,” said night foreman Stanley Fraley.

One of the ways Davis connected with his kids was through sports–mainly football and basketball. “He was always showing video of his kids, always talking about his kids and football. He was a very doting father. He was famous for showing people videos of his sons,” said Principal Kimberly Martin.

Davis cared deeply about being involved in his sons’ athletic pursuits, a passion he shared with a group of other fathers in his community. “I think he cared about it because it was a group of men who were pouring their lives into their kids. They were using sports to help their kids bridge some of the difficulties of life and go from childhood to adulthood,” said Martin.

“He was always encouraging to his sons, he was always at the football games. He was their life,” seconded Director of Strategy and Logistics Brandon Hall.

Davis’s collegues will also remember him as a hard worker who always offered a helping hand. “If you asked him to do anything, he’d go ahead and do it,” Fraley said.

“He always wanted to help people,” echoed custodian Kris Young.

“He was a wonderful, positive guy with terrific energy that everybody on the staff really loved,” said Martin.

“Derick was a committed individual. He was committed to his family, he was committed to the relationships he established within the school system. He was a person who had positive energy all the time. He wanted to help make sure the Wilson community was at its best at all times. We brought him onto the custodial team because we needed that energy,” said Hall.

Davis’s co-workers also emphasized his wisdom and sense of humor. For many, he acted as a mentor. “[Derick] taught me some things that I didn’t even know, about life stages. He was older than me, so whenever he talked, I listened,” said custodian Jarrell Baltimore. “He was always joking around, he was funny,” said Young.

The custodial staff noted the hardship of losing two beloved members of their team in under four months. Former night foreman Byron Kelly passed away in January. “It’s hard, because we’re like a family,” said Baltimore. “We eat lunch together, we laugh together. When we’re going through the bad times on the job, we go through it together,” Baltimore said. “Two custodians in one year, one being like an uncle figure, a father figure, and the other being like an older brother figure–yeah, that’s tough,” said Baltimore.

“The team has taken it really hard. Both guys were on the night staff, they had tremendous personalities. These guys work tons of overtime… they are together all the time. To lose two members of your family in four months, it shakes your spirit.” said Martin.

Hall seconds Martin’s comments. “It hurts. When I heard about the loss, I only thought about the team. They work with these guys on a daily basis, they become family. You know how it is with family–when you lose a family member, it hurts.”