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Colleagues wish Phone Tech Lance Davis a happy retirement

L-R: Lance Davis, his wife, Marni, and daughter, Cory.

L-R: Lance Davis, his wife, Marni, and daughter, Cory.

Back when “computers weren’t all that sophisticated” and paper maps were common on job sites, Voice Systems Engineer Tony Jess remembers handing Phone Technician Lance Davis the hard copy of a floor map marked up with the locations of various telephone ports and jacks.

Balancing an armful of phone sets, Davis “took about 10 steps before the wind kicked up, blew the map out of his hands, and sucked it straight down an elevator shaft,” Jess recalled during a retirement celebration for Davis on April 26, 2023, at 102 Tower. “Lance said, ‘Hey Tony, on a scale of 1 to 10, how important was that map?’”

“I probably couldn’t do that again in 100 more lifetimes,” said Davis, who was joined at the farewell celebration by his wife, Marni, and children, Cory and Joe.

Davis, far left, appears in this undated photo, courtesy of Syndi Haywood.

Davis, far left, appears in this undated photo, courtesy of Syndi Haywood.

Davis retired on April 28, 2023, after serving 30 years at the University of Utah and UIT. According to his supervisor, Syndi Haywood, associate director for UIT Voice Systems and Business Administration, Davis has put in 61,800 hours of work over those three decades, not including overtime.

“Lance has been with our department through four name changes — from Telecommunications to Telecom to NetCom to Unified Communications …” Haywood said. “When you start out here as a young adult, as Lance did, you inevitably experience that fortifying moment when you suddenly realize that you’re no longer a kid. You’re the adult. Then you start looking for the adultier adult, and realize, ‘Oh my, God, 30 years later, I’m the adultiest adult around.’”

After such a long tenure, you’re bound to collect some amusing anecdotes — particularly when you get queasy in medical environments but happen to be tasked primarily with phone installations at University of Utah Health, as Davis was.

Davis recalled being handed a phone wrapped in a biohazard bag while working at ARUP Laboratories and “the most outrageous ticket I ever had” — a request to install a phone stained with blood. “That’s one I had to let go,” Davis said. “I told them, ‘Just throw it away. We’ll take the loss.’”

Refreshments included cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. 

Syndi Haywood, associate director for UIT Voice Systems and Business Administration.

“We were on an overnight call when, at two in the morning, Lance and I overheard this loud banging coming from the next room,” UIT Account Executive Lisa Osborne said. “I was like, ‘What are they doing?’ It turns out they were putting a patient’s hip into place with metal rods, which I thought was so cool, but Lance was like, ‘Nope, I’m out of here.’”

Funny and fond, the memories and farewells  had one thing in common — Davis, his colleagues said, will be missed.

IT Specialist Fernando Ferrer Anato will miss their “daily Spanish lessons.” “Pretty much every morning he’d tell me a new word he learned in Spanish,” Ferrer Anato said.

Systems Administrator Corey Hayes said he’ll miss “the title game we’d play, trying to figure out what my job title was going to be on any particular day.”

“We’ve spent a lot of years together, harassing each other,” Hayes said, “but beneath it all, we always did what we needed to do to get our jobs done and help each other out.”

Refreshments included cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. 

Refreshments included cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. 

Telecom Installation Tech Jason Lawes said UIT will “definitely miss all that knowledge and Lance’s ‘I’m on it’ attitude.”

Kristina McAfee, an administrative assistant in U of U Health’s Women’s Health Services, paid tribute to Davis via Zoom.

“Although I don’t get to see you in the office every day, you were always the first one to respond so hastily when we had needs in Labor and Delivery, and Emergency Services,” McAfee said. “I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your kindness and everything you do to help our team function every day.”

Voice Systems Engineer Julia Harrison shadowed Davis when she first became a service coordinator.

“I was lost in the telephony world, and you showed me all these [telecommunications] closets. I remember going into these places and seeing all the cabling wrapped around the room and thinking, ‘How do you find anything?’” Harrison said. “Thanks for showing me around and for never sending back an order of mine with a snide remark.”

Osborne tearfully read a poem she composed for Davis:

I can’t believe you’re retiring.
The place won’t be the same.
I’ll miss your smile every day.
I’ll miss your corny jokes. …

No more deadlines.
No more boss for you.
What a different life for you.
You can now do things
that you’ve always wanted to do. …

As you retire from this job
I wish you happiness,
No more stress,
And working with you has been fabulous.

“I will miss you very much,” Osborne said.

Haywood said she imagines a retired Davis like “the oldest man” character played by Tim Conway on “The Carol Burnett Show,” “shuffling around the house and yelling at those dang kids on the lawn.” But Davis plans to start his retirement on the road, hitting up some Major League Baseball parks on the way. One of his first stops, he said, will be Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

After that, he said he hopes to “dust off the fishing pole” and spend more time outdoors, which made his retirement gift — a gas firepit — seem especially appropriate.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with you all,” Davis said. “Thank you for everything.”

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Last Updated: 5/31/23