Sigmund Davidson

Sigmund Edward Davidson was born on January 14, 1922, in Roanoke, Virginia. Sig contributed to the economic vitality of the Roanoke Valley through Davidsons – a men’s clothier founded in 1910 by his father, Joseph Davidson. Sig was just finishing his first semester at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business when the impact of the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor compelled him to move back to Roanoke to help with the family business, enroll in Roanoke College, and enlist in the United States Army in September 1942.

Sig was granted student deferment and set his sights on accomplishing a few things before reporting for duty. He secured a date with the young Harriet Cohen (whose photo had rendered him irreversibly smitten years prior), married his sweetheart, and graduated from Roanoke College in February 1943. Sig served in the World War II European Theatre from March of 1943 until October of 1945, initially as a mortar gunner and later a squad leader as Sergeant. He received word of the birth of his first child, daughter Bonnie, while recovering from a combat wound suffered in March of 1945.

Sig returned to Roanoke decorated with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for conspicuously meritorious and outstanding performance in military duty. He then embarked on a different era of responsibility and duty, taking the reins of Davidsons from his father and expanding the business as he expanded his family, welcoming two sons – Larry and Steve.
Sig’s active leadership in organizations such as the Virginia Association of Retail Clothiers and Roanoke Junior Chamber of Commerce throughout the 1950s ensured Davidsons was well poised as America’s shopping center fixation flourished into the following decades. Sig retired in 1985 and passed the Davidsons helm to his sons.

Sig believed he held a responsibility to give back to the community that helped foster his business success. He was continuously active in an array of civic and social causes in the Roanoke Valley which included the American Red Cross, United Way, United Jewish Appeal, Habitat for Humanity, Temple Emanuel, Menswear Retailers of America, Lewis-Gale Medical Foundation, Virginia’s Explorer Park, Roanoke Lifesaving Crew, Roanoke College, Center in the Square, Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, Israeli Bond, Jaycees, Downtown Roanoke Inc., and the Julian S. Wise Foundation.

Additionally, Sig initiated the presence of both the Literacy Volunteers of America and Big Brothers/Big Sisters in the area. As a pivotal community leader, Sig also played a significant role in propelling southwest Virginia toward desegregation. Due to his prolific and charismatic fundraising talents, having lunch with Sig was known to be “a pleasure with a price.” His community efforts were recognized with awards such as the 1989 Governor’s Award for Volunteering Excellence, Virginia Retail Merchants Association’s 1993 Retailer of the Year for outstanding contributions both as a retailer and a citizen, Roanoke’s 1994 Citizen of the Year for volunteer work on behalf of cultural and civic organizations, 1995 Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser Award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Roanoke College. Mr. Davidson died on March 8, 2020.

Sigmund Davidson was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 1992.

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