A Life Well Lived

June 1, 2012 | By More

The great American statesman, Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.

Russellville resident, Foster C. “Jock” Davis has done both. Not only has he lived an exemplary life as a soldier, salesman, community leader and volunteer, he recently published a book of memoirs, Brothers Four: Reliving the Great Depression and WWII.

As the title says, the book describes his family’s life during the depression, tells stories about his brother’s daunting exploits during WWII and tales from Davis’s own distinguished military career. Sprinkled with words of advice and wisdom from a man of deep conviction and honor, he also shares anecdotes from his years as a successful salesman and civic leader while giving praise to other area leaders like former Arkansas Tech University President Dr. J.W. Hull; Funeral Director and community volunteer Jim Bob Humphrey; his pastor, Dr. Tom Walker, and to his wife, Melba. He even devotes a chapter to his dealing with Bill Clinton, before he became President of the United States.

From his early struggles to his great successes, Davis is a genuine “people person” and this trait shows in his life and writings.

Originally from Prescott, Davis moved to Russellville in 1946 to attend Arkansas Tech University on the GI Bill after he was honorably discharged from the Army following WWII.

“The GI Bill gave me a college education. I could not have gone to college without it,” said Davis. He also credits ATU as the place he met his wife of 64 years, Melba, who was a freshman at the time.

At that time, the University had only 600 students. Because of the sudden influx of veterans, the campus had three ‘trailer cities” for married students and their families. Davis soon became President of the “city” where he and Melba lived as newlyweds. Davis graduated from ATU in 1950.

Named to the ATU Hall of Distinction in 2006 and twice elected as President of the ATU Alumni Board, Davis has definite ideas about the campus.

When asked about the changes in the ATU campus over the years, Davis said, “The changes are drastic and the Tech campus has grown from a men’s dorm and a ladies dorm to many dorms, many classrooms, and thousands of students from all over the world.”

“Dr. J.W. Hull was one of the finest leaders of a university you could find. He was renowned over the state as being a fine political leader, ran a tight ship and he knew most students by first name.”

“There were 600 students when I went to Tech. Look at it today.

The trailers for young married vets were wonderful and there was a closeness that doesn’t exist today,” said Davis.

Connecting with people and making a difference in their lives has always been important to Davis, whether he was teaching poultry management training seminars, selling poultry related products and services, volunteering in community organizations or in the military.

Davis served in the Pacific theatre during both WII and the Korean War. He also served many years in the Arkansas National Guard where he quickly rose up the ranks to become Commander of the 176 PAD.

As a “red, white and blue patriot”, Davis has passed down his respect for the military to his three grandsons who all now serve in the armed forces; Lt. Colonel Phillip Cain Baker; Major Patrick Joshua Baker; Captain Jacob Zachary Baker. All three young men are sons of Jock and Melba’s daughter, Jibby Davis Baker.

Three of Davis’ brothers, all deceased now, also fought during WWII. His brother LTC. Edward W. Davis was a decorated pilot whose B-26 Marauder Bomber, named “Flak Bait” is now on display in the Smithsonian Institute Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Davis’ ongoing involvement with patriotic causes includes a chapter on his participation in the “Honor Flight “with other WWII veterans last year that
culminated in Washington DC with a tour of military monuments and a trip to the Smithsonian to see his late brother’s airplane. Because of his work on behalf of veterans and his deep patriotism, Davis was named Grand Marshall of the Veteran’s Day Parade in Russellville in 2007.

Being in the military for more than 37 years in active and reserve service taught Davis many important things.” My military career taught me how to live within my means, be thankful for what my country means to me and to love my country. Combat taught me to ‘Move Forward and Never Give Up.’

Young people today, especially in sales, cannot stand to have a door slammed in their face, said Davis who still enjoys motivating people to do their best. With more than 50 years in sales, management and training in the poultry business, Davis got so good at motivating people he developed a seminar program, GYST (Get Your Self Together) that has been presented to poultry management majors at colleges across the southern US. Earlier this year, the poultry science department at Mississippi State University presented Davis with its Eagle Award in recognition of his many years of service to the poultry science industry.

Although long retired from traveling the country as a salesman, Davis still has selling in his blood. “After 55 years in sales, I find myself selling more than I ever did when I was being paid for it. We all sell everyday of our life without ever knowing it,” said Davis, who still does fund raising and volunteer work for many charities and community groups in Russellville and beyond.

During his lifetime of volunteer work Davis has served as a member and officer of several service clubs. He is a distinguished “Red Coat” member of the Russellville Chamber of Commerce, was past President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, was a school board member of the Russellville School District and received the Arkansas Ambassador Award during the administration of former Governor Dale Bumpers.

Davis has also worked on behalf of the Russellville Kiwanis Club and the Boy Scouts of America. His fund raising efforts for the Cancer Center in Little Rock were so successful he was included in the ground breaking ceremony of the center.

Despite his age, at 87 Davis is still active and serves on the Relay for Life committee, the Salute to Freedom Committee, and the Build a Bear program with Jim Bob Humphrey.

According to Humphrey, Jock Davis is one of his personal heroes. “Energetic and a constant source of ideas and encouragement, Jock is the kind of man you want to be around when you are working on a big project. Jock has been a driving force with the Soldier Bear program begun in 2007. The program has provided nearly 1,000 Build-a-bear teddy bears to the children of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and the GWOT. When he believes in a project, Jock will drive hard, never give up and help his team to finish strong,” said Humphrey.

Humphrey also praised Davis’ book. Brothers Four as a great read.

“The book allows a close look at the events of that terrible war and the 16,000,000 American men and women who fought along with the 430,000 who never came home to their families. Family is a part of Jock’s core, and he is glad to share his pride in each member who has served in the US armed forces now at four generations.”

At the conclusion to his book, Davis says ”If you do not remember anything I have written, I wish you would remember one thing, ‘To expect more is to get more.’ ”

Davis has obviously proved that point well!

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