Amherst Magazine
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JOHN DAVIS (1936-1979)

John Davis was a well-rounded man in the best sense. Allen Clark remembers that even as a freshman he displayed “youthful maturity. He was both serious and fun. He was the first person I’d met who’d read Kierkegaard.” John Davenport recalls that John had a “brilliant and fertile mind,” but was in no sense a grind. His widow Dee says, “John loved learning and studying. This was when he was happiest, for he just smiled all the time and seemed to glow. He always wanted to write a book, but that was cut short with his death.”

John loved also to play. Senior-year roommate Mike Bliss and his future wife Barbara introduced John and Dee on a blind date that fall. (“After that, it was all over.”) Mike remembers that he was always looking to have fun, including “mixing a perfect martini [with a drop of scotch],” playing tennis, sailing or squash. John and Mike won the intramural doubles championship for Chi Psi (where John served as rushing chairman).

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When John was a student at General Theological Seminary in New York after college, Dee Davis remembers he “played tennis with a friend every day no matter what the weather– shoveling off snow, and wiping the court after rains.” Later in California, Mike notes that John was just as competitive about sailing. “He had a small [16’ Montgomery] sailboat but was not intimidated by all the fancy yachts. He was determined to outsail any other boat in the area.” He even combined tennis and sailing through ‘tennis tag’– trying to hit the other boat with a tennis ball.

John began his career as an Episcopal priest. He attended Union Theological Seminary on a Rockefeller fellowship and received his master of divinity degree from General Theological Seminary. Like several other classmates who first made religion their vocation, John discovered that counseling was the most rewarding part of his work. He received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, where he established a private clinical practice.

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John and his wife, Dee, with daughter
and son, Wendy and Randy, circa 1973

“As a psychologist,” Dee says, “he cared deeply for his clients – always being available to them, for them. This was truly his ministry – caring for them and their souls through therapy and loving.” It’s interesting that John’s father left a very successful Nashville law practice to become an Episcopal minister.

Following John’s early death in 1979, Dee went back to school for her master’s and became a psychotherapist. She is now retired. Daughter Wendy has her JD-MBA, works as a lawyer at Southern California Edison and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. Son Randy lives in Kansas City with his wife and seven children. He’s a vice president at Applebee’s, but has started with his wife a business (“Inspiring Mom”) that teaches mothers and advises corporate wellness programs.

Dee says, “Who knows who John would be now, but I guess he would have continued to love life, to study, to care for others and play.”

John Paschall Davis Jr. died of an aneurysm in the brain stem Oct. 11, 1979.

 

 

 

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John at home, San Marino, Calif.,
circa 1978,ostensibly with that
“perfect” martini
John and Dee at his ordination as an
Episcopal priest, circa 1961
 

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