A man who spent two decades as a Gregg County commissioner was remembered by colleagues on Thursday as a man of great values who believed strongly in service to his community.
Charles Wayne Davis died early Wednesday in Longview. He was 81.
“He is one of the finest men I have ever met in my life,” Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, who credited Davis with sparking his interest in politics, said Thursday. “His integrity and faith were second to none.”
Davis was born at Stone Farm in rural Cherokee County on Oct. 17, 1938 to parents Lester C. and Katherine Davis, according to his obituary.
He was 10 years old when his parents moved the family and went into the auto repair and salvage business in the Oil Center community on the then-Gladewater Highway.
Davis later became President of Troup High School’s class of 1956, and attended Tyler Junior College and LeTourneau University.
In 1959, Davis enlisted and served as a sergeant in the United States Army Reserves.
He met his future wife, Linda Propes Davis, at a miniature golf course in Kilgore in 1960. They married in 1961 and established their home in Longview, where they raised their two children, Charlinda and Derek Todd. Linda died on New Year’s Day. She was 77.
“Papa loved the simple joys in life, like visiting the zoo with his grandsons, the geese at Whitehurst Lake, feeding the birds and cows at his Judson estate, and driving the country roads of East Texas with his beloved Linda,” his obituary said. “He was always on the lookout for folks to help, and he gave without any notion of motive or agenda, but only to show Christ’s love and human compassion.”
For nearly two decades, Davis owned and operated Southern Auto Parts on East Marshall Avenue before selling the business in 1975. He then worked for Ed Werner Construction and later ran for commissioner of Gregg County’s Precinct 1 in 1992.
Davis was reelected four times for a 20-year career as a Gregg county commissioner.
“With a lot of hard work, and the Lord’s help, I thought I could do that,” Davis said when he retired from the court in December 2012.
“Liking and wanting to serve others was definitely a factor in my ability to do that. ... When I ran for office, I did it with the attitude that I know what’s right and wrong. And that’s kind of the litmus test I had for decision making. And I can’t recall that ever failing me in the 20 years I’ve served.”
Though Stoudt and Davis served together for about nine years on the court, the two had been friends for 40 years. The friendship began when they were neighbors; Davis was on the commissioners court, and Stoudt was in business.
“I was thinking about that last night — about 40 years,” Stoudt said. “He got me interested in politics.”
Stoudt said Davis showed him what county government could do for the community and the issues they worked on.
“He always made decisions on what was best for Gregg County,” Stoudt said.
Davis was appointed to the National Association of Counties’ Human Services and Education Steering Committee in 1994 and was recognized as 2004 Longview Federated Clubs Man of the Year. He was the East Texas Council of Governments Executive Board Chairman and 2002 Regional Citizen of the Year.
The Texas Recreation & Parks Society honored Davis in 2003 for his work on community parks for the Longview, Pine Tree and Spring Hill communities, specifically Lear Park and Kid’s View Playground. He was active in service clubs and in volunteer work.
Longview Regional Medical Center Volunteer Coordinator Christina Cavazos said the organization is grateful for Davis’ generous service and dedication to the hospital.
”Charles and his late wife, Linda Davis, loaned their time and talents to LRMC for many years,” Cavazos said. “Linda began volunteering here in 2009 and Charles quickly joined her in 2012 as he retired from his service as a Gregg County Commissioner.”
Davis served weekly at the 709 Building of the hospital, greeting thousands of patients and visitors during his eight years of service.
”A true Southern gentleman, Charles greeted everyone he encountered with a smile,” Cavazos said. “On a personal level, his sweet spirit brightened my days. He was always quick to give me a hug each morning as I walked into work, tell me a joke and share words of wisdom with me that I will cherish forever.”
Cavazos added that Davis’ presence will be greatly missed, but that the hospital is thankful for and blessed by his many years of dedicated service to the hospital.
Stoudt remembered Davis’ calmness in the face of difficult issues.
“He was always calm and deliberate,” Stoudt said. “A great example for commissioners.”
The pair kept in contact after Davis’ retirement.
“I would call him on many occasions to get his advice on issues discussed in the court,” Stoudt said. “He will be sorely missed. He’s a wonderful man.”
A public memorial is scheduled 4 p.m. today at Woodland Hills Baptist Church. The service will be livestreamed at whbchurch.com and uploaded at a later date to the Rader Funeral Home remembrance page.