John Davis was born Feb. 10, 1930, to George E. and Garnet McQuain Davis in Hendricks, W.Va.
He graduated from Gordon Military College in 1947 and was a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Upon completion of school he began working as a radio announcer in Barnesville, and from there entered into the television field in Mississippi. After opening two TV stations in Georgia, he joined the TV film industry with Official Films Inc., where he was regional manager.
Subsequently, Mrs. Bennie Hansen of the Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta asked him to become general manager of all her interests, a job he greatly enjoyed. His career evolved into sales, where he became a top salesman for the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Great Books of the Western World which he helped develop and distribute with Dr. Mortimer Adler, along with the Syntopicon, an index of all of man’s great ideas. He was very proud of this achievement. He later became the CEO of Surfa Shield Corporation in Virginia and a renowned motivational speaker.
Mr. Davis was actively involved in many fraternal and civic organizations in his lifetime including: joining Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) at the age of 18 and holding international, national, state and local offices and being named as an Outstanding Young Man in America in 1965, Jaycees International and the Fairfax County, Va., Chamber of Commerce where he was named Member of the Year in 1984; Sons of Confederate Veterans, holding national, state and local offices and being a member of the 27th Georgia Regiment, Gainesville Camp 1404; Military Order of the Stars and Bars (holding national and state offices); the Longstreet Society and founder of the Georgia Heritage Council; the Tucker Shrine Club, the Yaarab Shrine Temple of Atlanta, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F&AM No. 239, where he was a 32nd Scottish Rite Mason. He was also a member of the Rotary Club, Kiwanis International and the Order of the Moose.
Mr. Davis was very active in the Republican Party. In Georgia, he was instrumental in bringing Richard Nixon’s campaign to Atlanta in 1960 and reviving the GOP in that state; he ran gubernatorial campaigns in Kentucky and senatorial and gubernatorial races in Virginia. He worked with the administrations of Presidents Eisenhower as a People to People Ambassador, visiting heads of state and young leaders in 60 nations of the world, and Nixon and Reagan, to bring the ideals of the Jaycees to economically oppressed countries around the world. He was involved in the High Frontier project a/k/a President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Davis was appointed to the Virginia Board of Commerce which oversaw 32 state businesses, regulatory boards and commissions and to a similar board in Kentucky. He was involved with the Miss Atlanta and Miss Georgia beauty pageants, the revitalization of George Mason University in Virginia and was the narrator for some of the Northwinds Orchestra performances in Gainesville. He was a member of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, the Atlanta Variety Club and the Episcopal Church. Through his exploits, he traveled the world many times over, making friends everywhere he went.
Mr. Davis is survived by his daughters, Lee Lewis of Clarkesville, Kim Thompson of Demorest, Kristine McClendon of Atlanta, Darlene Emrie of Topeka, Kan.; and son, Clay Davis of Lexington, Ky. He has 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was a loving grandfather and wonderful gardener.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northeast Georgia Hospice or organizations of your choice.
Arrangements by Hillside Memorial Chapel, Clarkesville.
The Northeast Georgian
January 11, 2012