Francis Marion “Cotton” Davidson, B.S. ’54

Francis Marion “Cotton” Davidson, B.S. ’54, of Gatesville, TX, passed away to be with our Heavenly Father Dec. 23, 2022, in Waco. His beloved wife of 68 years, Carolyn was at his side.

Francis Marion Davidson, otherwise known as “Cotton,” was born on a cattle and goat ranch outside of Gatesville Nov. 30, 1931. He was the son of the late John Thomas (J.T.) and Alyne Davis Davidson. Davidson was raised in Gatesville and graduated from Gatesville High School in 1949. He attended Baylor University, where he played football and met Carolyn Mabery. He graduated from Baylor in 1954 and married Carolyn on June 5, 1954.

Davidson loved Coryell County and his football and coaching career. Because of his career, he was forced to leave his hometown, but Davidson always returned knowing that it was where he was happiest. His career led to many accomplishments and achievements, but none were valued greater than his family. His wife Carolyn supported and followed him through his career with their family. He was drafted in the first round of the 1954 NFL Draft to the Baltimore Colts, where he played quarterback and punter. Shortly after, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he would receive the All-Army Quarterback in 1955. He briefly returned to the Baltimore Colts to find friend Johnny Unitas in his stead, so he joined the Calgary Stampede with the Canadian Football League. Following Calgary, he coached at Baylor University for one year, played quarterback for the Dallas Texans for two, and found a home with the Oakland Raiders for seven years. He played for the AFL All-Stars in 1961 and 1963 and was the AFL All-Star Game MVP in 1961. After his career as a professional football player, Davidson returned to Baylor University to become an offensive coach for 21 years. 

Davidson was a great man of great faith. He was a former member and deacon of First Baptist Church and a faithful member of Pecan Grove Baptist Church. He was an advocate of the Boys and Girls Club of Gatesville, where he served on the Board of Directors for many years. He never missed any of his 12 grandchildren’s sporting events, whether home or away, and found his utmost joy in family. Davidson is remembered by loved ones for his kindness, former players for his fairness and fans by his tight spiral.