Oct. 17, 1920-March 11, 2017
The final chapter of the storied, textbook life of Cecil William Davis closed March 11, 2017.
The textbook nearly went unwritten as he was diagnosed with diphtheria at age 3 and the family physician saw no life signs. Miraculously, his life's formative chapters were written as Davis grew up on a Lavonia farm as a "Great Depression child" with seven siblings. He walked weekly into town to spend hours at the famed Carnegie Library nourishing a love for reading and learning.
Born October 17, 1920, the son of Jewel Yow Davis and Mae Smith Davis, who encouraged school-based excellence at Lavonia High and Piedmont College, where he starred as a basketball player. While in college, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and the military chapter of his life was astonishingly successful. A first assignment was to conceive, develop and activate a physical training program for military personnel at Freeman Field Air Base in Seymour, Ind., for 10,000 enlisted men. The training program and manual was later adopted by the southeast Air Force Training Command. Transferring to the Nebraska Air Force Base, he replicated the program for the servicemen there.
A series of education chapters followed his military service for which he was best known, admired and honored. He earned a bachelor's degree from Piedmont College, a Master's degree from Vanderbilt University and a Specialist degree in school administration from the University of Georgia. "The Lord sent me to Hall County in 1953," he opined, "to substandard facilities and curriculum in an agriculture-based community and society." He and his beloved wife, Margie Wilson Davis, brought along son, Jerry, and daughter Jackie, and would later bring forth two more sons, Jody and Jaimie.
For four years, Davis served as principal of Flowery Branch School and was tapped to open its successor, South Hall High, for 11 years. From 1977-83, he was the superintendent of Hall County Schools. A little-known chapter is noted during his professional career as an educator. In 1958, he launched a plan to upgrade the requirements for classroom teaching in Georgia. Realizing some teachers had a two-year college degree and some only had a high school diploma, Davis, with support from the state's principals, presented a plan to the Georgia Board of Education to require a four-year college degree for all beginning teachers. His plan was adopted and is codified in state law. Another scantly-known chapter focused on his love of competition be it in athletics or academics. In textbook fashion and without public funds, he and the South Hall PTA built the school system's first football field with lights, bleachers and concessions.
In 1960, he founded the Lanierland Basketball tournament among local high schools, now the state's longest-running tournament. In a deserving tribute, the tournament's most valuable players receive the C.W. Davis award. Equally deserving, at the prompting of former students at South Hall High, the Hall County Board of Education named its newest middle school, C.W. Davis Middle School in 1999.
The professional, career and civic chapters of his life include leadership and honorary memberships in the Hall County Teachers Association, the Hall County Principals Association, Ninth District Principals Association, region president of the Georgia High School Association, Georgia Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals and the esteemed Phi Delta Kappa honor society. In his community, he served on the Oakwood City Council, the Gainesville Rotary Club and Hall County Evening Lions Club.
A lifelong Baptist, he served as chairman of the deacons at First Baptist of Oakwood for two decades while he taught Sunday School.
His wife of 72 years, Margie, preceded him in passing in 2015. Family members are children Jerry Davis and wife Juanita Deaton Davis of Citrus Springs, Fla., Jackie Davis Beatty and husband Kris Beatty of Lawrenceville, Jody Davis and fiancé Jamie Broadus of Chandler, Ariz., Jaimie Davis and wife Terri Wallace Davis of Buford; grandchildren, Nicole Davis-Ellison, Tess Davis Babbit and husband Carson, Blake Davis and wife Cara, Josh Davis and fiancé Erika Johnson, Ashley Davis, Jeremy Davis, Sierra Beatty Nelson and husband Nate Nelson, Kristopher Davis Beatty, Jordan Davis and Will Davis; great-grandchildren Amir Davis-Ellison, Namir Davis-Ellison, Zy'Miraah Davis-Ellison, Clark Babbit, Autumn Babbit, Jackson Davis and Rowan Nelson; sister-in-law Shirley Wilson Kimbrell, Cornelia; brother-in-law Simon Overstreet, Oakwood; and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at First Baptist Church of Oakwood with interment following at Memorial Park South Cemetery. Dr. Rev. Jerry Light and the Rev. Phil Carpenter will officiate. The family will receive friends 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., Monday, March 13, 2017, at Memorial Park South Funeral Home. In lieu of florals, contributions are greatly appreciated to the C.W. Davis Scholarship, North Georgia Community Foundation, 615-F Oak St., Gainesville, GA. 30501, or NGCF.org.
An eloquent textbook epilogue is scantly needed for this good and faithful servant. "I am blessed and happy. I learned to love and to like," he said. So, too, are his family and community blessed for his life with us.
Send on-line condolences to www.memorialparkfuneralhomes.com.
Memorial Park South Funeral Home, Flowery Branch
Published by gainesvilletimes.com on Mar. 12, 2017.