U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter
Last week, we said goodbye Mayor Richard Davis, or as I knew him, my friend Richard.
When I was first elected Mayor of Pooler in 1996, I felt like I was drinking out of a firehose. Overnight, all these problems that I’d previously been able to pass off to others or avoid completely fell squarely on my shoulders. It was an intimidating task to say the least, but I had a wonderful mentor in Richard.
Richard was Mayor of Richmond Hill for 21 years, beginning in 1989. His reputation preceded him; everyone knew that Mayor Davis was the life of the party, always ready to break out into song. But he was more than just a fun person to be around. He was a visionary, one that I looked up to then and still do to this day.
Richard was a huge advocate for the City of Richmond Hill. He often spoke about the city becoming the Branson, Missouri of Georgia, a hub for travelers looking for a break from the I-95 traffic. That goal is still a work in progress, but I am certain it was his forward-looking mentality that laid the foundation for Richmond Hill to grow into the city it is today, seeing a nearly 153 percent population increase since 2000.
He and I also served together on the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia. While Richard had a special place in his heart for the city he called home, he was committed to see and expansion throughout the entire region. A win for one Georgia city was a win for all Georgia cities, and I truly felt as though I had a partner in Mayor Davis, someone who wanted to see Pooler grow into the vibrant city it is today just as badly as I did.
His work is best embodied by the building of J.F.
Gregory Park. The park, now a staple of Richmond Hill, was the brainchild of Mayor Davis. He had a vision for a public space complete with nature trails, a playground, and public meeting spaces, one that is now considered to be the heart of the city.
That was the theme of Richard’s life – seeing potential in people and places where others couldn’t.
I’m sure everyone reading this is equally familiar with the iconic Great Okefenokee Seafood Festival. One of the largest seafood festivals in the southeast, this event features live music, amusement rides, and – of course – delicious seafood. This event is one of Richard’s proudest accomplishments and he even got his good friend and musician Gregg Allman to attend. I look forward to going to this event every year, but this year’s will be a bittersweet one. Bitter because it will be the first Great Okefenokee Seafood Festival without its founder; sweet because it will continue to honor Richard’s legacy in the community he loved so dearly.
I know Richard will be eating fried shrimp with us in spirit.
One of Richard’s hobbies was singing karaoke. In preparation for this article, I spoke with some of our mutual friends about their favorite memories of Richard, and everyone chuckled when they recounted that he had a karaoke machine in his house, where he would put on a show and let off some steam after a hard day. I don’t know what his go-to karaoke song was, but I’m sure it was sung with a big smile, a lot of enthusiasm, and ever so slightly off-key.
When I gave a speech from the House Floor in his honor, I said that Richard Davis will forever be synonymous with Richmond Hill. I echo that statement today.
Farewell, my friend – Bryan County will miss, but never forget, you.
Carter represents District 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives.