“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers”
Genuine Christian. Faithful husband. Loving father. Dependable brother. Patient grandfather. Family man. Loyal friend. Alabama football. Thursday pizza. Honorable character. Old recliner. Indisputable integrity. Purple Heart. Fried okra. Willing servant. My postman. Korean Vet. Gentle spirit. Witty humor. Big-band music. Daddy. Pawpaw. Patriotic. Consistent. Content. Kind. Honest.
Coy Davis. Can you really put into words a man who has lived his life well and is leaving a true legacy? Are there sentences that can encompass the whole of who he is? I asked the people closest to him to describe him in a few words. These are just a few. And today, we celebrate him. Today is his 84th birthday and if you will allow me, I want to share his life with you. Again, this is only a glimpse into a life well lived and I hope that we are all encouraged to make our life count on this earth, but also one that echoes into eternity.
During the depths of the Great Depression, in the foothills of the Appalachians, my Daddy was born to your typical Southern, rural, working-class family. His early childhood was similar to all children growing up during this impoverished era.
2 years old
His days as a child were spent sitting in a little rocking chair around the old wood stove while his mother prepared meals. He simply attended school and played with his brother, Dwight and sister, Jean. At an early age, he discovered baseball which he loved to play with his friends. That was usually followed by an afternoon fishing at the nearest creek bank. To this day, my Daddy is the most content man that I know. He still sits contently in a chair as he did when he was a child– only now it isn’t a little rocking chair, it is a recliner!
A goat ride with help from big brother Age 11
When he entered the tenth grade at Pell City High School, he began playing and lettering in all sports. He was a halfback on the football team, forward in basketball, and a first baseman on the baseball team. Upon graduation in 1948, he was given an opportunity to try out for the Auburn basketball team for a scholarship, but since baseball was his passion and his dream, he declined.
Half-back Pell City High School
During the spring of his senior year, he was scouted by the Cleveland Indians and was offered a contract to play professional baseball. He signed later that year and was sent to spring training in Marietta, Florida. After two very successful years in Class A, he was transferred to Class AA.
But that was when the draft board notified him.
Minor league baseball (left)
By this time, the Korean War was fully engaged and his country needed him. Leaving his beloved family and a promising baseball career was secondary to serving his country. Although he loved both, he left without hesitation. The Army recruits from Northeast Alabama were sent to Gadsden to board a train headed for Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. Before their long train ride, they ate at a local diner–the Star Cafe on Broad Street. Working the cash register that evening was a beautiful, dark-eyed young lady, and in God’s sovereignty, my Daddy had been assigned to take care of the meal expenses. They spoke casually as he paid and went on his way. Captivated by him, she wrote down her address and slipped it to the last man leaving and asked him to pass it on to the man that paid the bill.
Camp Chaffee 1951
With strong mathematical skills, Daddy was assigned to a surveyor team for artillery with the Seventh Infantry Division of the U. S. Army. He arrived in Korea in August of 1951. His unit was often assigned to work ahead of the front lines and was constantly in harm’s way. November 5, 1951, dawned a cold and cloudy day as my Daddy, PVT Davis, and two other surveyors climbed Heartbreak Ridge, slightly north of the Thirty-Eighth parallel in North Korea. About 1:30 that afternoon, the first man tripped a land mine. The “Bouncing Betty” immediately exploded and all three men were seriously wounded. Daddy’s first memory was being transported by helicopter, strapped underneath, to Taegu Hospital. He received large amounts of shrapnel to his upper body and face and suffered significant loss of blood. While in the hospital, he was awarded The Purple Heart. Within a month, Daddy was back to his outfit seeing front-line action on a daily basis. He left Korea in August 1952 and was honorably discharged October, 1952. In addition to The Purple Heart, he was awarded the Korean Service Medal and two Bronze Stars.
Re Won Chul, an 11 year old Korean boy that was taken in by my Daddy and his unit. They provided his food and clothing while he taught them some Korean words. He had been displaced by the war with no idea of what happened to his family. This is the horror of war–children left alone to survive on their own. This is just one example of his heart to love “the least of these”. Daddy said just this week that he still wonders what happened to him.
Upon his return, he began dating the dark-eyed cashier at the Star Cafe. He now knew her as the beautiful Shirley Palmer, as she had faithfully corresponded while he served and defended his country. After a short courtship, they married December 24, 1952. My parents established a loving home that was Christ-centered. I only have memories of my Daddy and Mother loving The Lord, each other, my brother and me. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my childhood was as perfect as you can have in this life. Discipline balanced with love, not material possessions, but the treasures that money will never buy.
Daddy went to work for the U. S. Postal Service in 1955 and retired in 1989, as an exemplary employee with many accolades and awards of service. He was known and loved as a postman–and 25 years later, people still recognize him as “their postman”. As a faithful Christian, Daddy has served as a deacon, Sunday School superintendent, teacher, and trustee. I can truly say that my daddy’s faith has been unshakable. He is always consistent and even tempered–never angry.
Daddy, me, and Mike–1971
Daddy, me, and Mike–2014
Daddy loves his family. He was always a gentle yet firm hand as he and my Mother raised my brother and me. He has two grandsons, Joel and Seth, and one granddaughter, Hannah. He is the proud great-grandfather of three little boys: Isaiah, Nico, and Benjamin. Daddy’s beloved wife and my Mother went to be with The Lord in April 2007.
Pawpaw’s surprise 75th birthday party!
As I have been thinking over my Daddy’s life, one thing keeps coming to mind: all of us are “legacies in progress”. The legacy we leave is not something established after we die, but it is a work in progress–being created now by our everyday living. This very brief peek at Daddy’s life is an example of a living legacy, one that has stood the test of time and is worthy of emulating. My daddy finds joy in the simple things in life and although he has had many achievements, he doesn’t treasure those things. His treasure is in heaven! I am deeply humbled that, by the mystery of God’s mercy, that He planned for me to be born to Coy and Shirley Davis. Because of the unconditional love of my Daddy, I was able to accept the love of my Abba, Daddy. I am grateful for and do not take for granted each passing day that my Heavenly Father allows me to to have my earthly Father.
“Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old”