Dr. Martin Davis
Dr. Martin Davis passed away Monday morning after almost 97 years of life.
Martin was born three blocks from Yankee Stadium in New York City on April 28, 1922. In 1927, Martin, his parents and three siblings moved to Knoxville and settled in the Park City area on Linden Avenue. He graduated at age 16 from Knox High (Class of 1939) where he was a member of the track and golf teams.
At age 19 he graduated from the University of Tennessee, followed by medical school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. Martin graduated number one in his class and was also president of AOA, the
medical scholastic honorary society. He never forgot his Linden Avenue roots, proudly reminding that 19 physicians came from his 15 block neighborhood .
After completing his internship at John Gaston Hospital in Memphis, he then served 2 1/2 years in the Army Medical Corp in WW II as a Captain and Chief Medical Officer in the Antilles.
After the war, he married the former Miss Catholic High, Orsella Marie Salomone on December 26, 1947. They met on a blind date A few years earlier. Martin and Orsella moved back to Memphis where he completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Returning to Knoxville in 1950, he practiced OB/GYN for 35 years, welcoming thousands of infants into the world and sharing joy with so many families in East Tennessee.
His contributions to Knoxville in general and medicine in
particular were multiple and important . Among these he served as Chief of Staff at UT Hospital in 1959.
In 1972, Martin and his partners, Dr. J Vivian Gibbs, Dr. Floyd Bankston and Dr. John Howe ( all deceased) were the
driving forces in founding Parkwest Hospital. Among the many
comments that were made during their seemingly bold decision to build the hospital it was said, " A bunch of crazy doctors are going to build a hospital in a cow pasture."
Martin became the first Chief of Staff of that "Cowpasture Hospital."
In 2017, due to the efforts of Dr. Lynn Massingale, Martin was named a Healthcare Hero in tribute to his lifelong contributions to area healthcare. During an interview with the KNS he shared what he believed to be his greatest medical contribution. He was a co-founder of the Florence Crittenton Home , a home for unwed mothers. These young ladies, through his efforts and gifts, were given a safe and comfortable residence with free pre-natal and delivery services provided by Martin and his partners. In the mid 60s, women having children out of wedlock were stigmatized by many. Incredibly, some in the
community criticized him for his role in starting the home .The kind,
generous and professional care aided many young women and assured homes, biologic or adoptive, for the newly born.
Martin was a special kind of person, not only brilliant but with excellent common sense. Known for his zest for living he enjoyed and loved his gorgeous wife, Orsella, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and they were followed closely by his golf, scotch, gin rummy and ever present cigar.
He recorded six holes in ones in his life, two in one week on the same hole at Adios Golf Club. Another favorite past time was laughing, kidding and swapping jokes. He was a stranger to no one and showed absolute respect to everyone, especially service personnel.
Martin is preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Matilda Davis, sons, Herbert Mark Davis and Philip Gerard Davis ( both from cystic fibrosis), brothers, Dr Dan Davis and Marine Captain Herbert Davis, killed in action during World War II.
He is survived by his sister, Blossom Averbuch of Nashville and three sons, Dr. Alan Davis( Jan) of Dallas,Texas, Dr. Stephen C. Davis ( Molly ) of Knoxville, Dr. Gregory J Davis ( Vanessa), Lexington, Kentucky and former daughter-in-law Kathleen Davis of Lexington. His very special grandchildren are Julia Hooks, Philip Davis and Katherine Hardaway, all of Dallas,Texas, Elizabeth Dietrich of Nashville, Charlie Davis, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Timothy Davis, Jackson, Wyoming, Dr. Joe Davis, Durham, North Carolina, Colleen Davis, Louisville, Kentucky and Leslie Davis, Lexington, Kentucky. He would happily and proudly tell you of his fourteen great grandchildren.
The family would like to recognize the many people who visited and those who helped provide care to Martin in his last year. The staff, nurses, aides and administration at Manor House were outstanding. His family offers deep and heartfelt thanks to everyone at that institution. Special thanks and gratitude also given for UT Hospice.
Martin was deservedly blessed with many friends. Among those who meant so much to him, and gave so much for him, are Bill "Sockman" Durrant, CJ "Snuffy" Smith, Michael Brezina, Dave Brichetta, brother-in-law Jerome Salomone, nieces Judy Davis King and Squeaky Salomone Sams, Bob McManus, Dr Richard Harb, Dr Don Larmee, Dr Reese Patterson, Dr Cecil Rowe, Dr Jay Desvaux, Mike Dickson, Dr Tony Ramos , Dr Charlie Barnett, Dr Ron Pack, Dr John Montgomery, Dr Joe Googe, Wayne Heatherly and the late Dr Edward Knowling.
Lastly, Dr Lloyd Davis. Lloyd was our Dad's friend for his entire professional career. They were next-door neighbors at Manor House, where Dr. Lloyd Davis still resides and is the last living founding member of Parkwest Hospital. Thank you, Dr Lloyd, for daily looking in on our father.
Per his wishes Martin will have a family only gathering in his honor He will be buried next to his wife, Orsella, at the Veterans Cemetery on Lyons View Pk. Donations in his honor should be sent to Interfaith Health Clinic, 317 Gill Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37917 or The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at CFF.org
. Arrangements by Cremation Options, Inc. (865)6WE-CARE (693-2273) www.cremationoptionsinc.com