After starring as eternally chipper housekeeper Alice on The Brady Bunch from 1969 to 1974, actress Ann B. Davis – who died Sunday in San Antonio at 88 – left Hollywood behind to enjoy a quiet life with close friends.
“Her life centered around her local church,” says Bishop Bill Frey, who, with his wife, Barbara, lived with Davis in an extended family household community starting in 1976.
“She was at St. Helena s twice a week going to church and Bible study another day of the week.”
The longtime friends, who shared a home and a strong belief in their faith, first met when Davis attended a church service in Colorado being officiated by Frey. “She would stop by and visit in town whenever she was traveling,” he recalls.
From there, Davis spent some time staying with the couple, which eventually turned into a more permanent situation.
“She wanted to see what it was like to live in a big extended family household community,” he says. “We had a big old house with four generations of people living together – all involved with the ministry of the Episcopal Church.
After a month, Barbara Frey accompanied Davis back to Hollywood, “where,” said Bishop Frey, “Ann packed up her Emmys and a few other articles and moved in. We put her in a bedroom with two other single women and she just became part of the family.”
While Davis still continued to accept acting roles after leaving Hollywood, she had declined all invitations in recent years due to health reasons.
“She had arthritic knees and no rotator cuffs, so she had limited arm movement,” says Frey. “Her eyesight was also beginning to fail, and she had very powerful hearing aids.”
But despite declining health, Davis didn t slow down when it came to her faith. “She just lived it. She was the most honest, forthright, charitable and giving person. Just so generous.”
As Frey and his wife deal with the loss of their dear friend, they also know that their home will not be the same without her.
“She just has been such a integral part of our life for so many years,” he says. “She leaves a huge hole. Ann was just a marvelous companion here at the house for my wife and myself and any other people who happen to be living with us at the time.”