This month’s Peace member who is featured for living his vocation is comfortable in many settings: on the dairy farm where he grew
up, singing in a barbershop quartet, raising funds for charities, or being the CEO of an auto dealership. These are just a few examples of the ways that Don Davidson has lived his vocation.
Raised on a farm in Ellsworth, WI, Don attended Luther College after high school. He then worked as an auditor in Chicago, eventually moving to other corporate accounting and financial reporting positions. In 1979 he joined his father-in-law in the family auto business in Minnetonka. He has been there ever since, a total of 41 years. For the past 25 years, he has been Dealer Principal and CEO at this dealership, Sears Auto Imports.
Don is definitely a “family man.” He has a son (Jeff), a daughter (Stacy), and three grandchildren. Although Don has spent six days per week at work for more than 40 years, he has tried to devote almost his free time to his family. This has included time with them at church. Don has offered his support at Peace by serving communion, ushering, being on the church council, working on stewardship and finance committees and drives, and singing as a soloist or as part of an ensemble. He admits that his work has often challenged his time with his family, but he hopes that he has in some small way been able to replicate the example of his parents, who are the people that Don says have impacted him the most in his life. “They were both active in their church and community, and family always came first. If anyone was in need, they were always there to help,” he recalls.
Over the years, Don has been involved with many charities, such as the Pacer Center, the National Kidney Foundation, Interfaith Outreach, and Community Partners (IOCP), the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, the Wayzata Chamber of Commerce, the Tubman Foundation, Open Arms (a sizeable local meal provider) and many other charities. In Don’s business, a significant emphasis over the years has been to give back to the community as well. “It has been our way of honoring both our loyal customers and our great employees,” he says. For the last few years, the company has devoted a full-time employee to work directly with the community and civic organizations. When their facility was remodeled in 2010, they gained an ideal venue for hosting events for the community, such as fundraisers, meetings, and events for local organizations and charities. Don says that “it is truly meaningful to be able to utilize your facility to host such events for the entire community.”
When asked what the joys are of his vocation, Don says that he especially enjoys the people contact and the relationships developed at work. “This is also applicable to community involvement – it is the people you meet and work with who make the activities so rewarding,” he explains. As for the church, Don says that, similarly, “it is the people that make the church. Although Peace is not a large church, it welcomes all and has been a community within itself for many years – a community of faith and worship.” Don says that this feeling of community is vital in our current environment of uncertainty. “The impact of COVID, social and political upheaval and divisiveness requires all of our involvement and outreach,” he says, and he feels that Peace has always provided a true community of faith and worship for himself his family, and others. Don believes that thriving goes well beyond financial success. To truly thrive, Don believes that “one’s success is that of a strong faith, participation in a healthy community of worship and serving
and assisting one’s neighbor.”
Don has a special and unique connection to Peace. His home church outside of Ellsworth – Our Savior’s Lutheran – sponsored Peace when it first started out as a mission church. Don didn’t know this when he and Joanne joined Peace in 1980, but he learned it much later, from conversations with Peace members Arne Kolbjornson and Monte Anderson.
Thank you, Don, for continuing to give of your time and talents to so many local charities that improve the lives of many, particularly for giving of yourself to Peace Lutheran Church. May we all, in our “busy-ness,” find opportunities to give back with a happy heart, as you have done over the years!