Resident Spotlight: John Davis

Loyal and Faithful

John Davis is an icon for the qualities of loyalty and faithfulness to his country, having served eight years in the Army. Also, he has recently devoted his life to caring for his wife, JoAnn, who is now a resident of The Manor at Kirby Pines. Until the Covid-19 virus changed policy, John spent many hours of his day in the Manor with JoAnn. 

John Davis wears many titles. Not only is he a veteran, husband and father, he is a singer, a Colonel Sanders “look-a-like, and a “teller of tall tales”. You can spot him nightly with a group who gather around the Post Office area after dinner. John refers to this group as “The Liars Club”. When asked if he would be offended by the title of “good ol’ boy”, he said, “No, I’ve been called much worse”. 

John Davis could rightfully be called a “good ol’ boy” as the term is positively used to compliment someone who not only has a Southern background but is considered dependable and loyal to a fault. These are John’s words describing his early life: 

“I was born and raised in the ‘big town’ of Bandana, Kentucky, population 200. If you don’t know where Bandana is, it is located between Paducah and Monkey’s Eyebrow. It was a good place to grow up. I was an unexpected surprise to my parents who were forty-two and forty-four when I was born. I had two older sisters, fourteen and sixteen years older, so, as you might guess, I was a ‘spoiled brat’. We lived on an eighty-five acre farm with a big red barn and a windmill sixty to seventy feet tall. My dad had a trucking business for many years, hauling milk and livestock from three counties to areas as far away as East St. Louis. He let me ride along with him and the saddest day of my life was when school started and I could not go with him. My Dad raised beef cattle and when I was nine years old, he gave me a calf to raise. By the time I went to college, I had a small herd of my own”.

JoAnn and John’s Wedding Day 1957

Following graduation from high school in 1952, John entered Murray State College in Murray, Kentucky. He graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1956. John says, “Murray was a great college but I was not a great student”. During his sophomore year, John was invited to go on a blind date with another couple. The girl for John, of course, turned out to be JoAnn. They dated for three years and married on August 25, 1957. Their first son, Rich was born in 1965 followed by another son, Chuck in 1969. They now have three granddaughters. 

After graduating from Murray State, John volunteered for active duty in the Army rather than be drafted. He had joined the Army Reserves during his freshman year in college and achieved the rank of Sergeant. Following basic training, John was assigned to Nike Missile School in Ft. Bliss, Texas. Being newly married, he was happy to remain in the states. However, as luck would have it, his battalion was the first to be sent oversees to Wiesbaden Air Force Base in Germany. Since there was no housing for Army personnel, he and JoAnn made the difficult decision to be separated for the twenty months of the assignment. The trip to and from Germany was on a WWII Victory ship which, according to John, “was nothing more than a big floating bathtub, nothing like the modern ships. I was sick nine days over and twelve days coming back. When we docked in New York, I kissed the ground and promised the good Lord that I would never leave our shores again. These were words I would ‘eat’ almost forty years later”.

Following his discharge from the Army in 1959, John and JoAnn moved to Memphis. John’s first job was with General Electric Corporation. After a year in an apartment, they bought a house in East Memphis. They joined and were active in Mullins Methodist Church. According to John, “We had wonderful neighbors and made a lot of life-long friends with our neighbors and at church”. 

John decided his real interest was in sales and through a friend, became employed with Ortho Diagnostics selling blood typing products to blood banks and hospital laboratories. He would later work for two more companies, Nuclear Medical Labs in Dallas and Hybritech in San Diego. “I had a ball!”, says John. “I loved every minute of it. Because of the travel involved, JoAnn, the boys, and I got to see all but three states. We visited many countries of the world, including trips to Spain and England which JoAnn won by selling encyclopedias. For a school teacher, she was a ‘heck’ of a sales lady. I often wonder how a ‘green’ country boy and a ‘sharp-eyed’ little girl from Kentucky ever got to all of those places”. 

John & JoAnn 2019

John and JoAnn moved to Kirby Pines in August, 2012 when JoAnn’s arthritis worsened. “Thank God we came when we did! We have been blessed”, says John.

Since moving to Kirby Pines, John has found time to sing with The Entertainer’s Chorus and is frequently a soloist. “I really love singing with the Chorus”, states John. He is also a member of the Men’s Fellowship Group and is currently a Wing Leader. 

To know John Davis is to admire him for his strength and steadfastness. He is truly a “good ol’ boy”. THANK YOU JOHN AND ALL VETERANS FOR YOUR SERVICE!

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines