Former principal missed

Published 9:01 pm Thursday, April 4, 2013

Former staff and students of John F. Kennedy High School spent this week remembering their principal, Eugene Davis, who died Monday.

Davis, a Vietnam War veteran, was principal at the high school in the 1980s and later moved to the central office, where he eventually retired as personnel director. Even after his retirement, he helped the school system with recruitment.

“I knew we could always count on him,” said Janice Holland, who was assistant principal under Davis from 1981 to ’86. She later became assistant superintendent.

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“We went from him being my boss to, technically, me being his boss,” she said. “We just never missed a beat. It wasn’t a big deal for either one of us.”

Holland said Davis was great with students and staff alike.

“He’d give me advice, whether I thought I needed it or not,” Holland said. “I’d always realize later, yeah, I needed that advice.”

His love for the students was always on display, she added.

“If they suffered a loss in their family, he was at the funeral,” she said. “He just was there for the kids and for his staff.”

Former librarian Bobbie Wright shares a special connection with Davis — he gave her away at her wedding.

“Gene and I have always had a special relationship,” she said. ‘I often called him ‘Dad.’ He came to the hospital when my daughter was born. He’s always been very, very special.”

Wright recalled that Davis loved the school system, visiting schools frequently for no reason after he moved to central office.

“He loved education. He loved students. That’s just who he was,” she said.

Both Holland and Wright were able to see him in the last days of his fight against cancer.

“I’m glad I went,” Wright said. “This world would be a whole lot better off if we had a whole lot more of him.”

Davis is survived by his wife, Barbara West Davis, and five sisters. A funeral is set for Friday morning, with burial at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery.