Merle Updike Davis ’44 was born and raised in Orlean, Virginia, on a 350-acre farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Warrenton, Virginia. She graduated from Mary Washington College in 1944 with a bachelor’s degree in science. Her time on campus was colored by the events of World War II and the United States’ efforts to prevail victoriously.
She went on to earn a Master of Social Work from Columbia University in 1953. She later met and married Robert L. Davis, an environmental health specialist, and they settled in Berkeley, California.
Merle’s career extended over fifty years, many of those with a diversified private practice specializing in clinical work with children, the aging, families, and adults. After her retirement in 2000, and finding no published works about social workers and the profession, she wrote and published Ties Across Time: A Woman’s Life in Social Work. The book has been praised by many in the field and used in classrooms by students hoping to follow in her footsteps. In retirement, Merle enjoyed writing, watercolors, gardening, and her grandson Geoffrey and her granddaughter Heidi. Merle passed away in 2017.