Dorothy Davidson, figure in Huntsville business and philanthropy, finishes battle with cancer


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Davidson Technologies confirms the passing of its CEO Dorothy Davidson at 86 years old, following a nearly three-year battle with cancer. She passed peacefully at her home Tuesday, May 11th.

Her husband, Dr. Julian Davidson, founded the tech company, which she took over following his death in 2013. The company provides engineering services to the aerospace and defense sectors.

Davidson Technologies announced Mrs. Davidson was fighting cancer in July 2018, and she worked through her illness, continuing to lead the tech agency.

According to a release from Davidson Technologies “She took great pride in both maintaining Davidson’s reputation of performance excellence, and in transforming the company into what it is today. She remained active in the daily business operations of the company until her final days.”

A native of Virginia, she started her career as a research mathematician with the US Air Force at the Pentagon in 1956. She and Mr. Davidson moved to Huntsville in 1992.

Julian and Dorothy Davidson were well-known philanthropists in the community, including donations to the US Space & Rocket Center, Auburn University (AU), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

Mrs. Davidson was also a member of the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, which outlined some of her contributions:

“Throughout her career, Davidson, along with her husband, made numerous transformational contributions to Auburn Engineering, strongly supporting engineering education and workforce development. In addition to support of scholarships and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Davidson gave a $5 million gift to renovate Broun Hall, home of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in honor of Julian.

She also supports UAH, providing a $5 million gift to construct a business incubator. In 2015, UAH awarded Davidson an honorary doctorate.”

According to Davidson Technologies’ release, Davidson also sat on a number of boards, devoting her time to a number of organizations, including the “Huntsville Museum of Art, where she funded the construction of the Davidson Center for the Arts; Huntsville Symphony; the Saturn V Restoration Executive Committee; The Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space and Rocket Center; National Children’s Advocacy Center; Kids to Love Foundation; Calhoun Community College; Auburn University School of Engineering; Auburn University Museum of Art; Decatur’s Cook Museum, and Huntsville Botanical Garden, among others.”

“Davidson was a vanguard, not only for women in her field, but a pioneer within the engineering industry as a whole,” the release says. “Her servant-leadership, community stewardship, and altruism will be deeply missed.”

Congressman Robert Aderholt issued a statement:

“I’m saddened to hear of Dorothy Davidson’s passing. She was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She and her late husband Julian have left such a lasting legacy on the Huntsville community. We all aspire to leave the world better than we found it, the Davidson’s achieved that and much more.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center issued a statement on the death of Dr. Dorothy Davidson:

“This is not only a great loss of a friend and mentor to the Rocket Center, but to so many in our community, said Brenda Carr, Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation. “She infused her spirit and enthusiasm in so many of us who had the great fortune to know and work with her. She and Julian made a lasting impact on this city and we are forever grateful.”  

USSRC officials say they will light the Saturn V rocket blue, the color of Davidson Technologies’ logo, to honor Dr. Davidson’s legacy of support for the Rocket Center and her community.

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