POTOMAC — When remembering the life of Don Davis, Dr. Dale DeNeal had one word — “noble.”
DeNeal, a pastor and childhood friend of Mr. Davis’ sons, told how he exemplified the trait not by his words, but his deeds.
DeNeal listed the various qualities of a noble person, and illustrated how
Mr. Davis’ life exemplified each, he said. He told of his service to his church, the Masonic Lodge, school board, little league, neighbors and family. He was industrious, always working on something at home or at his implement business.
Mr. Davis died Dec. 28. He was 81.
To illustrate Mr. Davis’ honorable side, DeNeal told a story from his childhood.
During a little league game, DeNeal hit a ball that happened to hit Mr. Davis’ truck, cracking the back window. Fearing the consequences, he did not confess, but Mr. Davis knew. He approached DeNeal and expressed “stern disappointment.”
DeNeal considers it a life lesson to this day.
Among his other qualities, DeNeal said Mr. Davis “was wise in a no-nonsense way, able to size up situations quickly.”
This quality served him well in his line of work. Many considered him a master mechanic.
DeNeal’s brother David benefited by shadowing Mr. Davis as he worked his mechanic magic, and still carries a small pair of pliers he received from Mr. Davis as a reminder of the many skills he learned.
David Spain, son of Mr. Davis’ cousin Bonnie, called him “the farmer’s best friend, saying he was instrumental in keeping his father’s and many other farmers’ (machinery) going, no matter what.
Generosity was another trait of Mr. Davis, who gave of his time and talents to others.
He was known for carrying gold Susan B. Anthony dollar coins in his pocket as a sort of calling card, and they would show up in different unexpected places. A centerpiece of the gold coins was a part of his funeral service.
As a former assistant fire chief and firefighter for 47 years, Mr. Davis helped countless people. His wife, Jean, recalls a story that illustrates what must have been an ingrained call of duty.
In his later years, he had some physical limitations and some moments of temporary confusion. Jean would have difficulty helping him and would sometimes have to call on the local ambulance service for assistance.
One time he got in the car and wouldn’t (or couldn’t) get out. So 911 was called, and the workers could not talk him into getting out of the car — until they decided to tell him that there was a fire. That immediately triggered his firefighter response, and he was out of the vehicle in no time.
Mr. Davis’ life was not without sorrow. His son Kent died at age 32 due to an undetected heart condition. He was married and the father of a 10-month old son. Grandson Derek Davis of Danville is now 27 years old.
Julie Hughes, his neighbor of 48 years, remembers Mr. Davis being a role model for his children as well as the neighbors’ children. He would speak calmly to them and was patient when the situation called for it.
If one of his neighbors, young or old, popped in while he was working in his barn, he’d offer up a snack of sunflower seeds as a welcome.
“His garden looked like one from a magazine — rows of vegetables for the family and friends, and rows of colorful flowers, which fed the hummingbirds, butterflies and pollinators. All of his gardening skills inspired me”, said Hughes, who is a master gardener.
She summed up her remembrance with these words from author Harriet Jackson Brown: “Remember that children, marriages and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. Don cared…”