Sarah Kimball Davis of Maidstone Lane, East Hampton, and Washington, D.C., died at Stony Brook University Hospital on Nov. 12, following a fall the night before outside a restaurant in East Hampton. She was 87.
As a close friend of many people in the Kennedy administration, Mrs. Davis experienced history close up through the 1960s, her family said, flying to East Hampton from Washington after being warned of danger during the Cuban missile crisis, and accompanying Ethel Kennedy on the funeral trains for both President Kennedy and his brother Robert. She wrote about her experiences in an as-yet unpublished memoir, “Beyond Belief: My Life With the Kennedy Family.”
Mrs. Davis was born in Raleigh, N.C., on Dec. 6, 1925, to Clarence Victor Kimball and the former Sadie Woodlief. She moved to Washington with her sister and mother when she was 4 years old.
She was a student at Bennington College in Vermont in 1944 when she married John Spencer Davis, whose father, John Ker Davis, was a United States diplomat. Her husband went to war shortly after, serving in the Navy.
The couple began coming to East Hampton in 1960, spending summers, weekends, and vacations here until 2003, when they moved here full time. They were members of the Maidstone Club for over 50 years, and of the Columbia Country Club and Chevy Chase Club in Washington. Mrs. Davis was an enthusiastic golfer, her family said, and loved spending time with friends and relatives at their cabana by the beach.
She was a witty and respected writer, said the family, with a discerning taste in clothing and home decorating that was appreciated by Mrs. Kennedy and many others. As an interior designer, she was sought out by friends and clients for her fine color sense and broad knowledge of fabrics and antiques.
A sportswoman, Mrs. Davis particularly enjoyed swimming and skiing. She loved to dive under big waves, her family said, keeping the Maidstone lifeguards on alert while swimming to the buoys on blue-flag days. On the slopes, she would bomb down the mountain in a velvet riding helmet, long before helmets were worn by anyone but downhill racers.
“She had great joie-de-vivre, with an unstoppable energy noted by all who knew her. She had the ability to make you feel you were important to her, and everyone who knew her loved her,” said the family.
Mrs. Davis leaves two sons, John Spencer (Jock) Davis Jr. of Alexandria, Va., and Christopher Kimball Davis of Moss Beach, Calif. A daughter, Tracy Tucker Davis of East Hampton, also survives, as do three granddaughters. Her husband died about seven years ago.
The family held a celebration of her life at her East Hampton house on Nov. 16.