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Davis remembered as man who loved life, his family and city
Davis funeral RH
The hearse carrying former Mayor Richard Davis' coffin drives past Richmond Hill City Hall on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.

Richard Davis, Richmond Hill’s longest serving mayor, was remembered during his funeral service Thursday at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church as a man who “had an overflow of love in his heart and a desire to do what is right and honorable.”

Davis, 87, died Sunday. He was buried at Richmond Hill First Baptist Church Cemetery after a funeral procession down Ford Avenue, a road he pushed the state to get widened, to the city hall he helped design near a park he fought for and helped create.

But despite spending 31 years in office and served from 1989 to 2010 as mayor, Davis’ life was about “more than mayor-ing,” RHUMC Pastor Jay Tucker said, noting that Davis and his wife Christine were married 65 years and “folks, that says a lot. Someone needs to sit down with her and figure out the secrets of life.”

Still, Tucker, noted, while Davis was in office the city and its residents were was “his No. 1 priority.”

“He never went on vacation,” Tucker said, adding that the Davis family “would go on vacation with friends and family and leave him here. And if a storm was coming, be it Matthew or David, he wouldn’t leave, he saw it as his duty to stay. He absolutely loved this city.”

Family friend Adam Martin recounted Davis’ honesty and integrity.

“Richard Davis was a good man. He was everything that those closest to him believed him to be,” Martin said. “What’s more, Richard Davis left an enduring legacy for his family and the community of Richmond Hill. He was a great husband, father and friend.”

Martin thanked Davis’ wife Christine and their son Chris and late son Dean and his family for sharing him with Richmond Hill, adding “each of our lives here today has been enriched by his life and yours.”

Mayor Russ Carpenter, who grew up in Richmond Hill, said Davis “served as the best example of how to lead a city,” and for many residents will always be “The Mayor.”

“There is ‘a’ mayor and then there is ‘The Mayor,’” Carpenter said, recounting Davis’ work with the Jaycees in 1962 to get the city chartered by the Georgia General Assembly.

“After this at every turn he was involved in shepherding the community that would one day become the fastest growing in the state,” Carpenter continued.

 “He could see years down the road, what the city would need or what we needed to accomplish in order to grow,” Carpenter said, highlighting some of Davis’ accomplishments. They ranged from getting Highway 144 widened to taking on the state to get more water to setting aside land for J.F. Gregory Park and then creating it.

“And in those 31 years, Richard Davis never shied away from a fight if he knew the city would benefit,” Carpenter added.

Davis, whose high school graduating class of 11 students were the first to have to go to go 12 years instead of 11, was also instrumental in establishing the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival.

Tucker recalled Davis as a caring, frugal man who loved to sing country music and hated to pay a repairman, but also a man who was able to adapt to changing times.

“Richard was really good at what he did,” Tucker said, noting Davis started out in business learning to repair cash registers, then progressed to owning his own business and helped install Savannah Bank’s first computer.

Davis’ father, Rad, was a “woods rider,” for Henry Ford, responsible for keeping poachers off Ford’s land, Tucker said. Davis learned the lessons of integrity and honesty from his father and carried those lessons with him in throughout his life.

Yet Davis also loved to have a good time, something that stemmed from his love of people and his faith, Tucker said.

“People and relationships were what Richard loved most. It’s what he knew,” Tucker said, adding that “He was always around people. He wanted to hear you, he wanted to tell you the latest joke. He wanted to celebrate life. When J.F. Gregory was finally becoming a reality, Richard told people NBC was going to be here.”

Tucker paused, briefly, then said, dryly: “North Bryan County.”

“Richard’s life … was about living to the fullest,” Tucker said. “Just look at the blessings he’s left us, the vision he’s shared, the fights he won, the decisions that he made, some of them liked, some of them not so much, but all because he loved this community.”

Davis also loved to laugh and sing country music, and recorded CDs. Davis’ somewhat off key rendition of the country song “If You’re Reading This,” a tearjerker ballad, was played during the service.

“Playing that song was not by his request, his family wanted to share that with you,” Tucker said after the song had finished. “His request was to be buried with his wallet and a hairbrush. He always had great hair.”

During the service, Carpenter read a proclamation from U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, honoring Davis. Carter also read out a tribute on the House floor honoring Davis, and adding that “For his passion and commitment to public service, Richard’s name will always be synonymous with Richmond Hill.”



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