Arnold Arthur Davis
June 13, 1933 - June 2, 2024

Visitation Information

June 4 2024 - 12:00 pm
Rodef Shalom, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood), Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Funeral Information

June 4 2024 - 1:00 pm
Rodef Shalom, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood), Pittsburgh, PA 15213

ARNOLD ARTHUR DAVIS: Died peacefully with friends and family at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 2, 2024. He forever will be remembered as the beloved husband of Selene Letichevsky Davis; the loving father of Jay, Shawn, Robin, Daniel, and Natasha; and a devoted grandfather of Renee-Rose, Paula, Margaret, and Sophie. 

Arnold was born on June 13, 1933 to Maurice Davis and Jeannie Rieder Davis in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At a young age Arnold moved to Toronto where he joined Hashomer Hatzair, a labor Zionist movement that would play a formative role in introducing him to Marxism and other academic theories and worldviews. He remained an active member until the age of 25 and often recalled this experience fondly throughout his life. 

Maurice was a fruit and vegetable peddler and Jeannie was a housewife. Despite the household’s modest means, there was always an abundance of food on the table. During a time when his family’s economic situation was harsh, he was placed in an orphanage. Soon after, Arnold started working at the age of six as a corner newspaper boy at night. Thus began a great love affair and his life work: he quickly mastered the art of salesmanship and marketed bibles, cookware, cars, and finally prefabricated steel buildings. Over time, steel became his defining profession. In Canada, he built a sales organization and accompanying steel factories to fulfill his growing book of orders. After a brief interlude in the world of muffin baking in Manhattan, Arnold returned to steel, this time in America where he would once again build a network of sales organizations and factories. 

As a business leader, he took great joy in teaching people the art of sales. As someone who never had the opportunity to graduate from college, he took a particular interest in those like himself—short on opportunities but large in natural talent and grit. With this true pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps American mentality, he fostered his own rags-to-riches story in many others. 

His love of sales was matched by his love of adventure and food. Arnold traveled the world many times over, exploring rural outposts across America as well as Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, India, Iran, Israel, Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Egypt, and Spain. At age 80, he could be found (or maybe not found, rather) traveling by wooden canoe up the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea visiting remote villages and locals along the way. The one constant throughout his travels was that he enthusiastically sampled and savored the delicacies he found, whether at a hole-in-the-wall or a Michelin-starred favorite. New and novel types of sweets always had a particular allure. 

These travels furthermore provided countless collectibles and antiquities, the discovery of which provided Arnold great joy. Size and weight were no deterrent: he realized quickly that it was no tougher to squeeze entire tribal spirit houses and massive totem poles into shipping containers abroad than it was to fill a similar container with steel at his factories. He developed a great passion for West Coast Canadian art—acquiring many pieces by Norman Tate and Christian White. He also crafted an outdoor sculpture garden filled with massive pieces of petrified wood, stone warriors, and bronze elephants and lions. He built a grand library, its shelves’ eclectic collection reflecting his expansive interests and tastes: history, art, physics, poetry and literature (with clear favor for American and Irish dramatists). He shared this passion for books with his daughter, Natasha, helping her form a collection of first editions that she continues to grow. He also took joy in auctions, flea markets and antique bookshops, and as his travels subsided later in life, he became adept at logging in to flagship online auction sites around the world. His collection of such mementos obviously led to a Pittsburgh household resembling a museum to most guests, but to Arnold and his family, it was just Home.

The sparkle of his eye was his wife Selene. They were together for thirty-nine years. Ahead of their time, they met through an add placed by Arnold in the New York review of books. They quickly realized their enormous compatibility in taste and how complimentary they were in their skills and abilities. They shared many an interest: opera, ballet, theater, musicals, symphonies, literature, museums, Judaism, traveling and exploring, and more. He adored how she lovingly crafted a home for him in many ways. She carefully curated a beautiful house and garden and brought order to their ever-growing art collection. Emotionally she also made a home for him by offering a great sense of security, stability, understanding, kindness, and unwavering support. While Selene provided much spiritual and mental nourishment, Arnold also delighted in her exquisite culinary skills across Brazilian, Jewish, and French food. A fond place in his heart is reserved for her Queen of Sheba Cake and Apple Charlotte. The table was just as full of treats at the end of his life as at the beginning. 

Services at Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood) on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 1 PM. Visitation one hour prior to services (12 Noon to 1 PM). Interment Homewood Cemetery. Please call Ralph Schugar Chapel for zoom link. Contributions may be made to the Stanley Marks Endowed Research Fund at Hillman Cancer Center, 5150 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc.


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My sympathies to you and you family on your loss. May his memory forever be a blessing to you all. Best regards.

By Tim Litman - June 03, 2024