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DDD Director Davis Rhorer dies from COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 9, 2021 at 7:36 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Davis Rhorer, the Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District, has died.

He had been hospitalized with COVID-19 for several weeks and East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark confirmed Rhorer died from the disease just before 1:30 p.m.

Rhorer was appointed to the BREC Commission in 2013 by Mayor Kip Holden and reappointed by Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome in 2017. He was BREC’s longest-serving commissioner.

“No one will ever match Davis’s vision and dedication to building a vibrant and exciting downtown for Baton Rouge,” said Holden. “We worked together closely when I was a legislator and then as Mayor-President, and we shared great pride in the international awards his work received. Lois and I will miss Davis as a dear friend and Baton Rouge will miss him as a tremendous community leader.”

“It was an honor to meet with Davis Rhorer every month for the past eight years. He brought the same vision and passion to BREC that he used to make the Downtown Development District a success against seemingly long odds,” said BREC Superintendent Corey K. Wilson. “His work is a shining example of what can be accomplished when people work together to better serve a community and we will continue implementing the trails master plan to make his vision of connectivity a reality,” said Wilson.

“I speak for the entire BREC family when I say Davis Rhorer will be greatly missed and that our condolences and prayers go out to his family, colleagues and friends. during this terribly difficult time,” said Wilson.

Rhorer’s brother, Dr. Jim Rhorer, told The Advocate newspaper that Davis was “a steward of forward thinking for the community.” “We just appreciate the love and support that the community has shown for my brother,” he said.

A native of Baton Rouge and graduate of Catholic High School, Rhorer played a key role in various downtown development projects since the DDD was established in 1987.

His accomplishments include overseeing the Baton Rouge 2000 Plan, Baton Rouge 2000 Update, the Riverfront Development Plan, the Fourth Street Master Plan, the Capitol Park Master Plan, the New River District Master Plan, the Downtown Visitors’ Amenity Plan and the city’s comprehensive Master Plan for development, Plan Baton Rouge.

The following statement is from the DDD:

“It is with great sadness that the staff and commission members of the Downtown Development District announce the passing of Executive Director Davis Rhorer on today, March 9, 2021. Davis’ passion for and commitment to the redevelopment of Downtown Baton Rouge area over the last 34 years was a spark that ignited a fire in the community, and the results of that vision can be seen on every corner. His enthusiasm was contagious and his ability to bring people together to effect change was a special gift that will be greatly missed and not easily replaced.

The DDD will move forward with heavy hearts, and will continue the effort to make Downtown Baton Rouge and the greater community a vibrant and outstanding place to live and work.

Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.”

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome also released a statement:

“Davis Rhorer believed downtown was the heart and soul of Baton Rouge, and likewise his heart was fully devoted to the Downtown Development District,” Broome said. “During his many years as the organization’s Executive Director, he guided the area’s revitalization, transforming downtown into a vibrant and prosperous space for residents, tourists, and businesses alike. His impact on Baton Rouge will be felt for generations. Davis was a partner in the vision of a city dedicated to peace, prosperity and progress for everyone. Not only did I consider him a community leader, but he was a friend. My deepest condolences and most heartfelt prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”

“And so if you stand at any part of downtown Baton Rouge, whether it’s the state office buildings, the riverfront, the planetarium, the courthouse. that was Davis’ dream. And he woke up every day and said, despite what people tell me can’t be done, I’m sure it can be,” said John Spain, Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

“And so he knew that if he created a quality of life where people could come and enjoy themselves in a safe place, they would come, and they did. And he kept building and they kept coming. I lost a dear friend this week, and a partner, that was so so important to this city,” said Spain.

“Davis was the driving force and certainly connected with everyone that made things happen downtown, and I don’t think nearly as much would’ve gotten done without his efforts,” said Paul Arrigo, President of Visit Baton Rouge. “The area is going to sadly sadly miss Davis, truly.”

Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker released the following statement:

“Today, I lost another dear, dear friend, Davis Rhorer. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Davis has been my friend since the early 90′s when we both shared the idea and excitement of what our city could become if we all worked together to make it happen. He was a TRUE believer in community revitalization and the power of transforming cities by rebuilding the community’s core. He lived out what it meant to hold on to a dream no matter how hard and impossible it may seem, until it comes true!!! He believed in Downtown Baton Rouge and he made it happen!! Forever going to miss my friend. Thanks Davis for the memories and for your enormous vision. We all miss you.”

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