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John Ferrill Davis
August 24, 1938 ~ August 17, 2023 (age 84) 84 Years Old
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John Davis was known for his fluidity and grace on the tennis court, his keen sense of humor, and his unapologetically bushy eyebrows. He died peacefully at his home on Thursday, August 17th after an extended battle with Parkinson’s at the age of 84. His loss leaves an unfathomable void, but his memory leaves an example of a life well lived.
John Ferrill Davis was born on August 24, 1938, in Gulfport, Mississippi to Ferrill Batley and Vardi Bedwell Davis. Growing up on the coast nurtured in him a life-long love and appreciation of the outdoors as he spent his childhood swimming, fishing, and playing tennis. He graduated from Gulfport High School and went on to study at Mississippi State University. He graduated from Mississippi State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry. While in college, he met his future wife, Dudley Harris, with whom he was immediately smitten. They were married in January of 1961.
He served on active duty in the US Naval Reserves at the US Naval Air Station in Millington, Tennessee. Following his discharge, he and Dudley moved to Rome, Georgia where he began his career with Georgia Kraft. His career brought them to Gainesville in 1964, a fact for which he was eternally grateful. He and Dudley settled into this community. He became a father with the birth of his son, Jason, in 1967, and again with the birth of his daughter, Elisabeth, in 1969. He had any number of skills and talents, but he was an exceptionally fun and loving dad. After his retirement from Temple Inland, John continued the career he loved as a consultant into his late seventies.
John’s lifelong love of tennis began early when he lived across the street from the local tennis courts. He played through high school and was a proud member of the Mississippi State University tennis team. He continued to pursue this passion as an adult and played weekly until he was eighty years old. He won multiple city championships here in Gainesville from the 1960’s through the 2010’s. John’s doubles partner, Paul Clarkson, became one of his dearest friends over the many years they played together. He served as the Assistant Tennis Coach for Brenau University for eleven years and was honored as the 2013 ITA Assistant Coach of the Year at the age of seventy-four.
John and Dudley travelled extensively throughout the world and made some lasting friends along the way. Closer to home, he and his dear friend Jack Bailey organized an annual men’s camping trip dubbed “The Blue Nun Patrol”. This unruly pilgrimage went on for almost forty years, although it did become admittedly less unruly as the years passed. Whether near or far, John loved seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures, and of course, enjoying various cuisines. He was an excellent cook in his own right, a skill he inherited from his father.
John was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville for over fifty years, serving as both an elder and a deacon. He loved to volunteer, and one of the best experiences of his life was volunteering at the Good New Clinics. He often said that the time he spent there did more for him than he could ever do for anyone else.
John was preceded in death by his parents, and by his beloved sister, Judy Hornbaker.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dudley Davis, his son, Jason Davis (TJ), his daughter, Elisabeth Baldwin (Larry); his granddaughters, Amanda Davis, Theresa Baldwin, and Madeline Baldwin; niece Vanessa Bryan and her children Jordyn Hebert and Michael Hebert; niece Dori Hornbaker and her children Gwendolyn Craig and Cesca Craig. He leaves behind special friends Liubov Orlova, Andre and Lindsay Ferreira, and a whole host of Brenau University tennis players, too numerous to name. Special thanks to his caregivers Annie Hamm, Angie Mack, and Rita Thomas, all who cared for John with such compassionate devotion.
Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, August 23 at 11:00 am at First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville. Visitation to follow in Sweetenburg Hall of the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Good News Clinics (810 Pine Street, Gainesville, GA 30501) or First Presbyterian Church (800 S. Enota Drive, Gainesville GA 30501).
Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at littledavenport.com
Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501 is in charge of arrangements.