C. Richard DavisApril 27, 1947 ~ July 8, 2017 (age 70)
Charles Richard Davis, 70, of Garner, NC, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2017, at Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh following what his wife of 49 years, Sidney, described as his “ultimate fight” against multiple myeloma.
Richard was born April 27, 1947, in a dirt floor tobacco barn that his parents Gentry James Davis and Florence Alma Lockamy Davis had converted into a simple home for their young family in the community of Hayne in Sampson County, NC. From this humble beginning, Richard went on to build a successful career in the florist industry as a business owner, commentator and educator. Richard was one of five children born to Gentry and Florence, four of whom made it to adulthood. The family had very limited means so Florence, in the enterprising, entrepreneurial spirit that she would impart to Richard, found a way to set each of her children on a course to a better life. For Richard, this meant going to live “in town” with Thelma Brewer, the woman he came to regard as his second mom and his children would one day call “Granny B.” He met Miss Thelma through his elementary school classmate, Allison Naylor, who would go visit her aunt’s flower shop after school. Thelma needed help sweeping the floors and this gave Richard his first afterschool job. She soon discovered he had a talent for flower design and before long Richard was working daily in the Roseboro Flower Shop, making his first casket spray at age ten and directing weddings by age 12. As his involvement with the florist grew, Florence allowed Richard to live with Thelma during the week. At first, Richard thought his mom was giving him away, but with time, he realized that this was a sign of her unconditional love and selfless dedication to ensuring his future success. Richard carried this life lesson forward by working tirelessly for over fifty years in the florist business regarding every ten to twelve-hour workday as a way to provide for his family, buy his beloved wife a real mink coat, send his kids to college and fulfill his dream of building the little cottage he designed where one day he and Sidney could retire.
It was this journey into the florist business that would lead Richard to his greatest love, his wife Sidney. Friends invited him to tag along as they visited a young lady recovering from appendicitis in the hospital. Richard, of course, had to take flowers, so he hand delivered a budvase to a 14-year old beauty named Sidney Clark in the Bladen County Hospital, the same hospital where a decade later Richard and Sidney would see their first two children arrive. Sidney also came from a background of simple means, full of stories of snakes in outhouses and hand-me-downs, so she was instantly smitten with the young man she would describe as her “Prince Charming on a white horse.” They would see each other at the Jehovah’s Witness Conventions they attended and, when Sidney needed a date for the Junior Prom, Richard was glad to oblige. They dated through her senior year and when Sidney voiced plans to move to Virginia to go to secretarial school Richard decided that plan would not work. He proposed arriving, in his always punctual style, so early with an engagement ring for their date that Sidney was still outside in her rollers and blue jeans doing yard work. She said “YES” and together they started a life together full of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, but filled every day with unquestionable love. Dedicated to the woman he called, “the prettiest thing he had ever seen” Richard fought through to make it to their 49th wedding anniversary which they celebrated on July 6th.
Richard provided for his family by owning and operating a florist almost continuously throughout his life in either his birthplace of Roseboro or his adopted hometown of Benson. His rigorous work schedule instilled a strong work ethic in his children and inspired those who knew him. His dedication to the florist industry inspired his daughter, Cydney, to follow in his footsteps and continue a third generation of the business in Raleigh. Richard’s talent and hard work earned him civic and industry praise and awards, the most notable of which was the Designer of the Year Award from the NC State Florists’ Association, which he received decked out in a Travolta-esque white polyester suit with Sidney by his side dressed in maroon chiffon and rhinestones. Richard’s florist was a fixture of Main Street not only for beautiful flowers but also for his saucy jokes and a little small town gossip. As his son Carmen describes, “He enjoyed sharing his sense of humor with his family, friends and florist patrons. Even in moments of pain and distress he was able to provide a brief moment of comic relief.”
In the little bit of time he had away from the florist shop, Richard filled his days with family time and a shared love of the arts, music, and theatre. He made sure each of his children learned to play an instrument and he encouraged their individual forays into artistic pursuits. Along the way, he directed plays that featured his daughters Cydney and Lora singing and inspired in a generation of young Benson kids a love of the theater. His daughter Lora remembers how much he loved being an active member of the Benson and Roseboro business communities. He valued his tenure as the President of Benson’s Chamber of Commerce as if he had been elected governor of the state.
For years Richard and Sidney were actively engaged in the Jehovah’s Witness faith. Time and work and family obligations eventually pulled them from the routine of regularly attending meetings, but as Sidney shares, he spoke often near the end of his favorite scripture in Revelation and the promise of living in a restored paradise on earth where he might again be with his family.
One of Richard’s last journal entries on June 17th spoke of his love and devotion for his family. Nothing meant more to him than family and he embraced every laugh or tear as if it was his own. As his sister Doris remembers Richard often said, “when your heart hurts, my heart hurts.” Richard cherished every aspect of family life through good times and bad. The family he leaves behind includes: his wife, Sidney Clark Davis, and their beloved cat Sundance, daughter, Cydney Davis-English and husband Warren English and their daughter, Vivienne, of Raleigh, son Richard Carmen Davis and wife Sarah Davis and sons Brewer and Morgan and dog Ruby of Clayton, and daughter Lora Davis Stocker and husband Miles and cat Ranger of Angier; sister, Doris Davis Huebner and brother-in-law Fred, special nephews, John Huebner, his wife Nikki and their three sons and Frederick Huebner, special cousin Mabel Hall and her husband Roland, special in-laws Sarah and Robert Hester and their sons Rick and John, and Hazel and Jack Livesay, his lifelong friends Nancy and Larry Williams and his supportive cast of characters from the Roseboro-Salemburg High School Class of 1965. His list of friends could fill the up the rest of the paper’s pages and, as much as Richard would like that, things are charged by the line.
So all Richard’s friends and family that would fill the pages of the N&O are invited to join in a celebration of his life from 6:00 until 8:00 pm (or longer if folks have lots of Richard tall tales, spicy jokes or bits of gossip to share) on Monday, July 10, 2017 at Rose and Graham Funeral Home, 301 W. Main Street, Benson, NC 27504.
A graveside service will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at the family plot in the Roseboro Municipal Cemetery. Per Richard’s favorite cousin-in-law, former Roseboro Mayor, Roland Hall, the cemetery is located, “On HWY 242 three miles south of Salemburg on the left or, if you’re coming from Roseboro, one-half mile north of town on the right. For those of you who need a little more help, the Longitude is -78.51080 and Latitude is 34.96500.”
Following the service, the family will host a reception at Lakewood Country Club where Richard and Sidney and family once lived in a house he designed in the style of homes he dreamed of as a child, “stately and made of red brick.” The Clubhouse is located at 555 Country Club Road, Salemburg, NC 28385, but you can just follow the scent of chicken pastry by his favorite caterer, April, and Nancy William’s sourdough bread, Richard’s favorite thing to eat during his battle with cancer. She’s baking him some one last time.
Richard Davis Memorial Scholarships
“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.” Richard discovered this poem when serving as editor of his high school yearbook and literary journal and he quoted it often when helping his children with homework and school assignments. To share his love of learning and inspire others to pursue a life filled with beauty and the arts, two scholarships have been established in Richard’s honor.
The Richard Davis Memorial Scholarship for the Arts
This scholarship is for a deserving young person to attend the Children’s Summer Theater Workshop offered by the Benson Foundation for the Arts in honor of Richard’s love for the arts, beauty and, to quote his treasured friends William Massengill, Loretta Byrd and DH Johnson, “his desire for excellence in all things.”
Donations can be mailed to:
The Benson Foundation for the Arts
P.O. Box 335
Benson, NC 27504
The Richard Davis Memorial Scholarship for Lifelong Learning
Sampson Community College Workforce Development & Continuing Education
To support the study of floral design, calligraphy and other artistic mediums whether as a career or hobby. Richard taught floral design and calligraphy in this program for years and was truly honored to be able to teach at a college even though he had not been able to attend one.
Donations can be mailed to:
The SCC Foundation
P.O. Box 318
Clinton, NC 28329
Or made online at: https://www.sampsoncc.edu/foundation/
Please note the Richard Davis Memorial Fund in the “Add Notes” section.
To learn more about multiple myeloma, visit https://www.themmrf.org/.