The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 17, 2013

W W. Davis Jr.

The Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — William W. "Bill" Davis Jr., 89, passed away July 12, 2013, after a long illness, at home and in the loving care of his son, Jeffrey.

He was predeceased by his wife, of 65 years, Mary Patricia, in 2011; and his sister, Helen Wallace, in 2010.

Other survivors include his daughter, Janet Louise; and son-in-law, John Van Beekum, of Miami, Fla.; and brother, Richard Davis, of El Paso, Texas.

Bill was a lifelong resident of Joplin and avid outdoorsman. He spent his childhood acquiring outdoor skills in and around Bear Branch, a creek south of town near the Boy Scout Camp, earning the rank of Eagle Scout and working in his dads lumber yard. He enjoyed fishing for crappie, bass and trout in the area's lakes and streams and hunting dove, quail and pheasant in the countryside and neighboring states. At age 80, he bagged his limit on the opening day of dove hunting season.

Sports were another focus of his early life. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track at Joplin Senior High. After World War II, he played basketball in the late 1940's and 1950's for the TAMKO Roofers, a semi-pro team that defeated the Harlem Globetrotters at Joplins Memorial Hall. Later he excelled in golf and was a long-term member and past president of the Twin Hills Golf and Country Club. In his prime his handicap was 2, declining to 12 at age 80 when health problems led him to give up the game. He wielded a deft hand with his putter.

He was proud of his four years military service during World War II as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant JG aviator. He flew PBY seaplanes throughout the Caribbean and South America, into ports like the U. S. Navy Base in Guantanamo Bay, and then four-engine seaplanes across the Pacific. He maintained his pilot's license for many years on Cessna single engine aircraft through the Joplin Flying Club.

After the war he returned to Joplin to marry Patricia, his high school sweetheart, and work as an insurance adjuster until the early 1950s, when he joined the Burgess Agency in insurance sales and service. In 1985 the Burgess Agency merged with the Flournoy, Eberline and McIndoe Agencies to form the Active and Progressive Agency, known as the Insurance Center, from which he retired in 1992.

Bill served Joplin as member and chairman of the City Traffic Committee, followed by service as a City Councilman, a member of the Board of Adjustments, and Chairman of the Public Library Board during construction of the present library facility. He was Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and also served on advisory boards for Financial Federal and the Joplin Mineral Museum. He was named Joplin's Outstanding Citizen by the Chamber in 1985. He served on the Board of Directors of Freeman Hospital. He was a longtime member of the Elks Club and the Rotary Club, as well as a past president of the latter.

A Trustee and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church, he was a member of the Church Building Committee before, during and after construction of the new sanctuary. For many years he participated in Wednesday morning adult Bible class, often starting the meetings with wry doggerel, clever facts, or church-worthy jokes.

Accomplishments aside, his deepest love may have been to spend time with his many friends. He was a member of the original Coffee Group, the Movie Group, the Dinner Group of Joplin, Friday nights at the Elk Club and the Jolly Boys, which he claimed was the longest running gin rummy game in Southwest Missouri. His wit, charm, and sweet tenor renditions of "Danny Boy" will be missed by all who loved him. 

There will be a visitation 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, at the Parker Mortuary, 1502 S. Joplin Ave. Following private burial at Mount Hope Cemetery, a memorial will be held Sunday, July 21, at 1 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church, 509 S. Pearl Avenue. Fellowship and photographs of his life will follow the service.