Willard Merrill Davidson
1938 – 2021
Merrill Davidson died, unexpectedly, early Sunday morning, July 25, 2021.
He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah (on his mother’s birthday) January 17, 1938 to Edna Winona Remington Davidson and Willard Mayne Davidson. Merrill was raised in Holladay, Utah. He attended Olympus High School (Class of ’56) where he excelled in academics and wrestling. He served a proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England from 1958 to 1960. Merrill attended the University of Utah as an undergraduate, majoring in History, and graduating in 1962. He graduated from the U of U School of Law earning his Juris Doctorate in 1965.
He married Nancy Lee Stevens in the Salt Lake Temple on March 17, 1961. Together they produced and raised five brilliant and beautiful children, Willard “Wid”, John, Reese, Sarah, and Mary.
Upon graduation from law school, Merrill and Nancy moved to Los Angeles, California where he practiced law. He first served briefly as an Assistant District Attorney, and then as a Public Defender for over a decade before moving to his own private practice. Over the next forty-years he became a well-known and much sought after aggressively ardent advocate for the “down and out,” the “oppressed,” and society’s “forgotten people.” At age 83 Merrill was still actively engaged in the practice of law as a trial lawyer. He continued to appear regularly in courts throughout Los Angeles and surrounding counties in his life-long effort to secure and defend his client’s Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
An Eagle Scout, Merrill continued his involvement with scouting for many years. He took young men on many adventures, canoeing through the Canadian wilderness and exploring the mountain wilderness of Utah and California. He was also heavily involved in church athletics. He coached numerous championship youth basketball teams and played on more than one championship softball team.
Merrill was an avid and gifted fisherman. He loved fishing the rivers and streams of his beloved State of Utah. He would often catch fish when and where other fishermen in the party couldn’t get a bite. He played the piano by ear and many remember him playing and singing “How Great Thou Art” in powerful, passionate, and singularly Merrill style.
If he wasn’t practicing law, on one of his prodigious road trips, or visiting his oldest son and
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson his family in Costa Rica for Christmas, Merrill could be found at a University of Southern California football or basketball game. A Trojan football and basketball season ticket holder for many years, his family and friends will always remember Merrill dressed in USC garb and raising two fingers in a victory salute or hollering “fight on” in support of the men and women of Troy.
Merrill is survived by his children, Willard Merrill, John Charles, Reese Mayne (Cydni), Sarah Jane (Richard Gerardo), MaryLynn, and foster son Reynold Ramirez; his siblings: (sisters) Dawn Stewart, Cottonwood Heights, Utah; Dianne Stewart (Lynn), Henderson, Nevada; (brother) Lynn Davidson (Rebecca), Holladay, Utah; and his sister-in-law, Margaret Davidson (Neil), Salt Lake City, Utah; as well as nine amazing grandchildren: Joshua, Aneeka, Hannah, Zack, Dakota, Wid, Ruby, McCoy, and Quinn; and dear friend, Gladys “Gigi” Bonilla. He is preceded in death by his parents, Willard and Edna Davidson, by his children’s mother, Nancy Stevens Davidson, and a brother, Neil Davidson.
A memorial service to celebrate Merrill’s life will be held by the family on August 7, 2021 at 4:00 pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 7515 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045. All are welcome.
Life Story Info
Mr. Davidson helped our family with a sensitive legal problem during the pandemic. He was introduced to us through a mutual friend. We found him to be straightforward, kind, firm, understanding, and extremely knowledgeable. I frankly don’t know how we would have gotten through it without him.
Our family extends heartfelt condolences to everyone who knew and cared about him. He will be greatly missed and leaves a legacy of a lifetime of service.
This is sad news. I have very fond memories of Merrill and the 3 older boys. In a very rough time in my life Merrill was a good friend, and counselor/lawyer.
If Wid, John or Reese are reading this I want you to know that I think of you often and have my morning tea in a mug that ya all gave me for Christmas back in 1978! Ya, its that old - and it has gone through a lot of moves, but its a keeper.
I am so sorry for your loss. He was a good man and had a generous heart. He touched a lot of lives, and we are all the better for it.