• Douglas Davidheiser
    Gilbertsville, PA 19525
    Teacher for 35 years in Reading
    Proprietor Douglas Sign Company


  • Boyertown Area Youth Baseball
    Ken Ellis, treasurer
    1296 Douglas Drive
    Boyertown, PA 19512

"Bearra," inspired by baseball legend Yogi Berra, was fashioned by Doug Davidheiser, the artist of the Body Borneman bear "Box.. "Bearra" is sponsored by Kenny Ellis, the main man in charge of Bear (baseball) Stadium and the American Legion baseball effort in Boyertown.

Ken was an original sponsor of his Bear Fever bear during the first round for Bear Fever's debut at the 2005 Arts Expo. Ken insisted that Doug serve as the artist. But Doug was pretty "burned out," he says, from creating the unique Borneman bear. He had spent countless hours in design, fabrication...and shopping to create just the right authentic look.

For the Borneman bear, Davidheiser cut off and refashioned the head and three legs of a walking bear form to create the signature stance of a quarterback in classic passing posture. When it was time to create the Legion Bear, time, energy and inspiration were in short supply; redoing Ken Ellis's Legion bear was a "given."

And while three baseball seasons were a long time for Ken to wait, we're sure he is pleased with Doug's latest work. Doug's personal time investment--about 800 hours--equal to the added expenses for materials--are his gift to his friend and sponsor Ken Ellis. Doug is pleased with his latest effort and feels sure Ken will be happy as well...and hopeful that he will forgive him for making him wait so long!

Features of the bear will delight Boyertown baseball fans especially. Note the special signal fashioned by the claws and the state championship patch, for example. Details about the methods of creating the catcher's mitt will interest sculptors and pie makers! The bear's name and number will be familiar to lovers of the sport, and those who have worn the equipment will appreciate the skill involved in creating it to fit "Bearra."

Ken Ellis’s Legion Bear: “Kenny”

About the Artist

Doug Davidheiser completed Ken Ellis’s Bear Stadium Bear but is not happy with the results and insists “Kenny” will be totally refashioned into a catcher position for the spring of 2006. And once again, like Doug’s Body-Borneman bear, “Kenny” will need to be chopped apart to achieve the effect Doug has in mind.

Meeting Doug Davidheiser, known as “Peanut” to his oldest friends, taught me a thing or two. I never thought of sign painters as artists; I thought of them primarily as businessmen. Now I know better. Doug Davidheiser has been involved in the arts his whole life. As a child he shaped his creativity by painting toy cars; and as he grew older, he painted his friends’ cars. He was good, but never had the best equipment.

In high school he only dabbled in art classes but was always impressed with Boyertown’s art department. He remembers Mr. Gerhart as one of his best art teachers and was inspired by the work of classmate Linda (Rohrbach) Austerberry.

His fulltime hobbies in high school revolved around sports—particularly diving, swimming and gymnastics. In fact, his association with Mr. Ralph Borneman began during his years as an athlete at Boyertown High School. Mr. Borneman was his varsity football coach. They’ve been friends ever since.

While no one was watching, he practiced dancing in front of the mirror while American Bandstand was on and impressed all the girls at junior high dances.

At college his art interest was furthered because his roommate was an art major and Doug often completed his projects for him. Plus, he worked on a friend’s race car and that’s when he knew he had a gift for lettering.

But his major in college led him to a 35-year career in teaching physical education at Reading Middle School which he enjoyed until the end. During his last years he felt the kids’ attitudes prohibited them from excelling which he found discouraging.

While teaching, however, Doug kept his art skills alive by maintaining a small sign painting business specializing in signs for real estate. He tried to stay small at first but his business grew quickly through referrals. He became more and more skilled with each job and learned techniques like pinstriping, gold leafing, and silk screening. He holds the title of being the first in Boyertown to do work in vinyl. He gives credit to one of his friends who discovered this new technology while on vacation in Germany.

He’s very happy in his business working by himself and enjoys the niche he’s created in the sign painting world in Boyertown. He takes some pride in his home—its history and in its purchase—and the barn he built to house his business. It’s huge!

While Doug is a fan of the Bear Fever project, he was disappointed that students were not around during the bear’s creation. He said, “They could have learned so much! We had to figure out how to make things work at every step; but we kept at it and didn’t quit, and I’m pleased with how “Box” turned out. It would have been a great learning experience.”

“My bears are perfect examples of how I learned: through my mistakes, working through setbacks and problems and insisting on producing only quality work,” he explained. Doug ended our interview with a surprising statement. He doesn’t see himself as an artist, but I certainly do. And he taught me a lot. --Jody Dolansky