Frank Lea Davis (1933 - 2013)

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Frank Lea Davis

February 3, 1933

January 15, 2013

Frank Lea Davis passed away quietly on the morning of January 15, 2013, after a severe but long unrecognized illness.

Frank was born to Henry and Minnie Bush Davis on February 3, 1933, in Forkland, Alabama. He moved with his family to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1945. Frank fell in love with boxing at an early age. He won Silver Gloves Titles in 1947-1948 in Indiana, and, before he was 16 won the Fort Wayne Gloves Title (1949). Frank was a semi-finalist in the National Golden Gloves Championships in Chicago in 1949, and became a Golden Gloves Champion in 1950.

In 1952 Frank Davis joined the Air Force. He won the Basic Training Championship as a light middleweight boxer, went to Military Police School in California, fought in Ohio on behalf of the Air Force, and was then sent to North Africa where he won a middleweight championship. He went on to fight for the Air Force in Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Greece, Morocco and Egypt as part of the USAFE (United States Air Force in Europe) team. 1955 was an important year for Frank. In that year he became USAFE Champion, All Air Force Champion, and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Champion. He fought and won three Britannia Shields bouts and became Britannia Shields Light Middleweight Champion. He competed in the Olympic trials of 1956, and fought at the Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Stadium in London. By the age of 22 Frankie Davis had won 85 out of 90 bouts, mostly by knockouts in the early rounds. The young southpaw was a favorite of English audiences and greatly admired by the English press. Wonderful photographs of Frank and fellow Air Force boxers at the Pyramids in 1958 testify to the achievement of these young men and their ability to represent the United States in all its diversity. Frank brought his expertise and love of boxing to Reno in 1978, coaching young Reno boxers in AAU and Junior Olympic trials under the auspices of the Reno Police Athletic League.

Frank met the love of his life, Margaret Caroline Phillips, when he was stationed at Greenham Common Air Base in London in 1955. Frank and Margaret spent 45 years together until Margaret's death in 2001. Frank and Margaret were devoted to their children and grandchildren. They are survived by six children: Frankie "Sugarman" Davis, John Davis, Terry Davis and David Lee Davis of Reno; Ernie 'Jeff' Davis of Las Vegas, and Carol Willis of St. Louis, Missouri; five loved daughters-in-law: Adrienne Davis, Paula Davis, Raven Kelly, Roseanne Davis, and Lorena Davis; and a beloved son-in-law Peter Willis. They are survived as well by twenty-two grandchildren: Frank Jr. and Tifffany Davis of Las Vegas; Terry Jr., Purshawn, Micah, Shayne, Jordan, Ziyah and Zaniyah Davis of Reno; John Jr. and Eladia Davis of Las Vegas; Paris, Kendra, Jade, Trey and Jeff Davis, Jr.; Ebony Foster and Brittany Willis of St. Louis; and Deniciea, Alexandria, Courtney and Aliza Davis of Reno; Frank and Margaret's six great-grandchildren are Mariah Honey Revada, Lamont and Jordan Foster, Paityn James-Perry, and Omari and Jordan Davis. Frank is survived as well by his brother Henry Davis of Detroit, Michigan, his brother Robert Davis of Fort Wayne, Indiana, his sister Virginia Jamison of Phoenix, Arizona and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brother Willie Davis and his sister Lessie Mae Peoples.

Frank Davis was the beloved 'Papa' of his children and grandchildren. He was wise, loving, forthright and peaceful, sacrificing himself for the good of his family. His beautiful laugh, his encouraging words and his great kindness will be greatly missed.

Burial will take place in Northern Nevada Veteran's Cemetery, Fernley, NV, on Monday, January 28th at 2 p.m.

Friends are invited to donate to the in memory of Frank and Margaret Davis.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Jan. 27, 2013
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