Daniel Davila

  • Born: November 1, 1928
  • Died: August 9, 2020
  • Location: San Antonio, Texas

Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212

Tel. (210) 227-8221

Tribute & Message From The Family

Daniel Davila was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and brother. He was also the embodiment of a true leader, serving in the San Antonio Fire Department for 37 years. After retirement, Daniel and his wife Gloria traveled, spent time with family, drinking coffee over his crossword puzzle, praying the rosary, and taking his daily walk. He passed away at home with his family, on August 9, 2020. He was 91.

Publicly, Daniel is best known as the chief architect and founder of the SAFD's Arson Bureau, paving the way for the modern Arson Investigator. He joined the SAFD in 1955, after working several years for the National Shirt Shop. He quickly climbed the proverbial ladder, being promoted to Fire Engineer (1960), Lieutenant (1963), and Captain (1967). In 1966, he became the first firefighter and highest-ranking officer to graduate from the San Antonio Police Academy. He set the precedent that continues to this day. In 1970, he was assigned to take over the SAFD's Arson Bureau, serving as the bureau's Captain until his retirement in 1992.

Daniel was the only investigator when he joined the Arson Bureau, often working 72-hour weeks. To improve the Bureau, he applied for grants and took every course available, including with the FBI and ATF. He ensured future investigators received the same training. Over the next 22 years, Davila grew the Arson Bureau to 13 investigators. Because of the bureau's success, he was asked to teach at places such as Texas A&M University School of Fire Science and The Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon.

While he improved the bureau's administration, he was at his core an in-the-field man. One incident is the stuff of department legend. In 1971, while driving on patrol with another investigator, a service station manager flagged him down, pointing to two men who just robbed his store. Davila, unarmed, pursued one of them. Catching up to one robber, Davila pointed his finger at the man as if it were a gun and shouted: "Stop or I'll shoot!" The robber stopped and tossed his gun. Davila arrested the man. The SAPD, impressed with Davila's hand-gun arrest, commended him in a letter for his "excellent use of police tactics."

Born in San Antonio in 1928 on the Feast of All Saints (November 1) to his parents, Manuel and Domitila Davila. He attended St. Philip's Church with his mother and four siblings, where he was an altar server and attended the school. Before graduating from St. Philip's school, Mother Thomas Joseph—his teacher and a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word—encouraged him to take a scholarship examination to attend Central Catholic. With some encouragement, he took the test and received the scholarship. Though he attended Central for his first three years, he withdrew after his father died to support his family. He graduated from Burbank High School. It's a credit to Mother Thomas Joseph, and women religious in general, that Daniel remembered and appreciated her encouragement even towards the end of his life.

Daniel married his wife, Gloria, in 1950 and spent the next 58 years raising five children and spoiling their grandchildren and great-grandchild. They did everything together and he was happiest when in her presence.

Despite the demands of his job, Daniel made sure to spend every moment he could with his wife and children, taking summer vacations, and reserving Friday nights with his family at one of their many favorite restaurants.

If you met Daniel, you'd probably remember his go-to greeting: "Hey guy! How's it going?" And he meant it. He was genuinely interested to hear how you were doing. This generosity of attention and time that he gave to his family and colleagues earned him various monikers: Dad, daddy, Papoo (by his grandchildren), Super-Papoo (by his great-grandson), Cap., and D.A. to name a few. He volunteered his time with his parish, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, and the Holy Name Society. His generosity was the quiet kind. He helped neighbors, supported the Church, and answered calls for funds whenever needed.

He learned this generosity in part from his mother. During the depression, a man had knocked on the door of their home offering to paint the house in exchange for food. Though his house did not need any paint, his mother still put together a basket of food to give him. Daniel never forgot that and would recount it to his grandchildren to emphasize the importance of gratitude and generosity. It's a lesson he taught and lived as a public servant, brother, husband, father, and as a grandfather. He will be greatly missed.

Daniel Davila is survived by his children and their spouses: Sylvia Mermea (Ernest), Richard Davila (Yvonne), Rose Marie Salinas (Richard) and Elizabeth Zerda (Michael); his grandchildren: Christopher Delgado, Stephanie Delgado, Kimberlee Sauceda, Veronica Davila, Stephen Salinas, Jeffrey Zerda, and Michael Zerda; his great-grandson, Johnny Sauceda,; and his sisters, Delia Rodriguez and Alicia Jones. He is predeceased by his wife, Gloria, son, Daniel, grandson, Ricky Salinas, his parents, and his siblings, Edmund Davila and Connie Douglas.

Daniel's family would like to thank Dr. Gladys Rodriguez and her staff, and Encompass Hospice's nurses and staff for the excellent care they provided him.

"In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life," Daniel's family will lay him to rest next to his wife, Gloria. With this hope, his family looks forward to the day they will be greeted with a warm embrace and hear Daniel say: "Hey guy!"

The family will receive friends from 5-7pm, on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020, at Porter Loring Mortuary.

7:00 PM

11:00 AM

A private burial will be at San Fernando Cemetery II.

A recordin of his service will be available via this link: https://admin.mediafusionapp.com/_live/embedPlayer.php?contentId=86602


Condolence & Memory Journal

Missing you Uncle Dan

Posted by Diana Arias - San Antonio, TX - Family   September 19, 2020

I picture a grand welcome celebration for Uncle Dan. Dancing, a feast, and all the family who have gone before him joining in a great party. My prayers for those of us still on earth, especially for Sylvia, Richard, Rosie and Liz. May God bless you. The Mass was beautiful.

Posted by SANDRA Arias MENDOZA - SAN ANTONIO, TX - family   August 26, 2020

Dan was one of the most respected fire officers in the SAFD. A true gentleman and fine individual inside and out. God bless him. Buddy Mass, August 23, 2020

Posted by Buddy Mass - San Antonio, TX - Coworker   August 23, 2020

I thought of Dan Davila as one of those larger than life heroes, quiet, strong, and very friendly. He was one of my Dad's (John Anderson, Sr.) friends and later became my friend too when I joined the SAFD. My family expresses our most heartfelt condolences to Dan's family. San Antonio is a better city because of men like Dan Davila. I'll always remember his smiling face and know he is smiling down on us at God's side along with my father.

Posted by John Anderson Jr - San Antonio, TX - Friend   August 23, 2020

Very sorry to learn of Dan's passing, but want the family to know that he left good impressions and memories with those of us who served with him during his career in SAFD. He was a good man. He treated others in the way in which he would want to be treated. He was always friendly and outgoing, yet very business-like and thorough when it came to doing his job. I recall when the announcement was made that an Arson Division would be established in the Dept, and that Dan would be its leader. He left fire station life to lead this much- needed Arson Division, using his experience and working knowledge to develop it into what it has become today. Yet he never forgot his roots, and would occasionally take time to stop at a nearby fire station to visit with "the boys" and have a cup of coffee. Please accept my condolences

Posted by KARL TRAEGER - BOERNE, TX - Coworker   August 21, 2020

Dan was one of the kindest guys I ever met. He was always smiling and never acted as if he was better than you. Simply stated, he was a good man and I am glad I knew him.

Posted by Jack Hardy - Adkins, TX   August 21, 2020

Daddy, I miss you so much. You have left a huge void in my heart. You were the rock and soul of our family. I wish you never have died. Enjoy heaven. I know mom and Danny are happy but you left a whole bunch of sad souls here on earth. Love you forever and ever!

Posted by Sylvia Mermea - San Antonio, TX - Daughter   August 20, 2020

Daddy, I will miss you always.Every time I go to Cracker Barrel or Rita's Mexican Restaurant, I will think of the times we used to go there as a family and that you were always laughing and were such a joy to be around. I'm sad now but happy you have reunited with mom. RIP

Posted by Rose Salinas - San Antonio, TX - Daughter   August 20, 2020

Rest in peace Mr. Davila and may the perpetual light shine upon you.

Posted by Phillip Zerda - San Antonio, TX - Family Friend   August 20, 2020

My condolences to the family. I remember Mr. Davis from when I became friends with Daniel at St.James.He was a very nice man, very well respected for the work he did.Prayers. Say hi to Daniel from me.

Posted by Juan Huerta - San Antonio, TX - Friend   August 20, 2020

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