Richard Earl Davis of Lakeland, TN peacefully departed this world on Friday, April 30th 2021 at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary Jane (Whitaker) Davis, daughter and son in-law, Beth and Earl Christian; son and daughter in-law, Rich Davis, Jr and Jackie, their children, Bentley and Reese; son and daughter-in-law, Danny Davis and Jennifer Carstensen and step-daughter, Payton; son Andrew Davis and his children Averi, Lexi and Adrian Davis; daughter and son in-law Sloane and TJ Gernon and their children Olivia, Morgan and William; brother Robert Davis and wife Jenny, nephew Austin and niece Carly from Brentwood, TN; nieces Maria Parham (Steve), Deborah Suriani (Richard) and nephews Russell Johnston (Sandra) and Greg Johnston; nephew Roddy Ragsdale and niece, Dana Ragsdale and a host of many more dear family and friends. He also leaves behind his loyal golden doodle, Jack, who brought him much joy in his later years. He was preceded in death by his parents, Richard B and Margaret Davis, his sisters Betty Johnston and Brenda Ragsdale.
Known as ""Dick Davis"" to many, he was born on February 6, 1938 in Jackson, TN. The family eventually moved to Memphis where he spent the remainder of his adolescent years. He graduated from Messick High School in 1956 where he was a star football defenseman and proudly earned the honors of Prep Player of the Year; named to the All-Memphis on both teams, and selected as All-American to hold down the tackle slot on the team. Richard took his talents to the University of Kansas as an offensive and defensive tackle where he lettered as a front lineman all years of play. He was a proud member of Kappa Sigma fraternity where he was selected to the Hall of Fame at the University of Kansas Chapter. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers where he spent the summer in camp under Vince Lombardi. He was traded before the season started and through some very clever maneuvering by his coaches, he was picked up by the Dallas Texans under coach Hank Stram. He was a member of the Texan's team when they won their first AFL championship in 1962 (and only title in Dallas) against the two-time defending champion Houston Oilers, 20-17 in double overtime, and still one of the longest games in pro-football history. The team relocated to Kansas City in 1963 and renamed the Chiefs in to the NFL after the AFL-NFL merger. Richard's pro-football career with the Chiefs was brief, but the city of Kansas City has always been dear to his heart, it is where he met the love of his life, Mary Jane and her family, who he loved and cherished to his last day.
""Dick"" started his career as a salesman in the plastics and coatings industry in 1965. Soon after, he relocated back to Memphis with his new wife. He never met a stranger, and he firmly believed in the value of customer relationships. He was a competitor in business, and his tenacious attitude and drive along with his entrepreneurial spirit afforded him the opportunity to start his own company in 1977, Specialty Plastics. He and his wife and on occasion, his children, helped the company get established, and his loyal customers followed him. Dick was a ""road warrior"", always out in front of the customer to ensure quality and satisfaction. Dick devoted much of his time to creating new product lines, always reinventing and improving the offering for his customers. As the company grew, it was renamed Polycryl Corporation, and today the company is a go to for the marine industry. Dick earned the respect of many, and leaves behind many loyal colleagues, customers and employees who loved and admired his spirit and drive to be the best.
An avid golfer, Dick was a lifelong member of Colonial Country Club. Back in the days of the annual Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, Dick volunteered each year, and served as security for President Jerry Ford during the pro-am, when he hit the famous hole in one. His big personality and love of telling a good story earned him lifelong friendships that brought much joy and laughter to his life. Dick was big supporter and fan of the University of Memphis athletics. He thoroughly enjoyed his Monday lunches at Patrick's with his like-minded Tiger buddies trading stories and sharing their passion of U of M football and basketball. Dick also had a love for coaching in youth sports. He was known as ""coach"" by many to this day from his time as a pee-wee football coach for the St. Ann Colts. Dick believed in and represented good sportsmanship, it was an attribute learned during his years as an athlete and it greatly contributed to his success in business and in life. Dick loved hunting and fishing, and especially loved being out on the water. He enjoyed his time with his hunting buddies and his family loved to hear the stories and the occasional tale he'd bring home. He also had a big love of birdwatching and he especially enjoyed watching the hummingbirds in action. He spent a lot of his later years in his backyard, where he'd watch with pride all the birds visiting his many strategically placed feeders and bird houses. He also had a passion for travel. His favorite memory was from a trip to the shores of Normandy, where he was granted the honor of raising the American flag. He was a very proud American, and an advocate for veterans and limitless donor to non-profits in support of veterans. Dick was a good friend to many, an encourager and good listener. His sense of humor was contagious and his love of story telling was enjoyed by many. Dick's proudest accomplishment by far was his family, his adoring wife, children and grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank the caring nurses and dedicated staff and volunteers at Reynolds Hospice in Collierville, TN, especially nurse Julie McClarty.
A celebration of life is scheduled this Thursday, May 6th, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church with visitation at 9:30am followed by a Funeral Mass at 10:30am.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Alpha Omega Veterans, Inc., attn. Cordell Walker, 1183 Madison Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104.
Published by The Daily Memphian on May 4, 2021.