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In memoriam: L.M. (Doc) Davis

Wednesday Southwest agriculture lost a good man. Doc Davis, an Elk City, Okla., cotton farmer, made a “very peaceful passing,” his son Danny emailed me early this morning. L. M. (Doc) Davis was 80.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at the 2nd and Adams Church of Christ in Elk City.

The U.S. cotton industry has lost one of its best representatives with Doc’s passing. The Elk City community lost an outstanding citizen. The Davis family lost a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

I lost a good friend.

I’ve known Doc and Danny for almost as long as I’ve worked in the Southwest. I’ve interviewed them numerous times. But they were much more than just sources for stories. From the day I met Doc and Danny we became friends. And today I grieve with the Davis family at his passing. I will miss him.

I always looked forward to seeing Doc at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. We sought each other out, shook hands and hugged in the manly way males hug each other. We laughed a lot. As his health failed and he could no longer attend the meetings, Doc always had Danny bring me his well wishes. I always sent mine back.

The first time I met Doc was at a no-till field day on their farm. I was impressed with the operation. I was even more impressed with Doc and Danny’s openness, their hospitality and their good humor. I was equally impressed with his wife, Marjory’s, chocolate pie. A month or so later I went back to do an interview for our High Cotton Award. The award was in Danny’s name but he was always quick to point out that Doc was an equal participant.

I knew Doc was not well. Danny and I talked about his dad’s failing health the last time we spoke, back in January at the National Cotton Council annual meeting. I knew then that Doc’s time was probably short, and I had hoped to make the trip to Elk City to visit him this spring. But, as is too often the case, schedules, conflicts and a dozen other excuse that were not all that important got in the way and I didn’t get there. I wish I had.

Danny asked if I would publish his thoughts on his father’s passing. Of course I will. He says:

“We all go through this process when losing a loved one or parent; we think back on what somebody has done with his life. Those of us that are self-employed and have only ourselves to blame for failure and only God’s help and blessings as an explanation for our occasional successes value good advice and influences. I think this is in part how we come to love someone or cherish a relationship.

“Being taught right from wrong and the difference between things that matter a little and things that are really important are what I keep coming up with when I think about Dad’s influence on me. I know all of us who have been in the ag industry for a few decades or more pretty much learned this lesson a long time ago, or we wouldn't still be here. I'd like for you to inspire some of our younger families or strengthen some of us older ones.

“Instilling a sense of duty in our children to serve an industry that serves us will help us feed and clothe our families. That matters.

“Being sure our children understand that there will be wet years and dry years and that how we conduct and handle ourselves in either is important—humbling ourselves to the point that we understand God’s grace is the only way we will make it to heaven.”

I don’t know how many bales of cotton Doc Davis produced in his many years of farming. I don’t know how much he sold them for or how they graded out of the gin. He lived in a nice house but not a mansion. But Doc Davis leaves a rich legacy. Danny is a big part of that. So are his two daughters. Marjory, his beautiful, sweet, wonderful wife will continue to maintain the legacy they built together over some 60 years of marriage.

Doc’s influence will continue through his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and those of us who knew, respected and loved him for the thoughtful, kind man that he was.

At the top I wrote that we had lost a good man with Doc Davis’ passing. That may not be accurate. Many years ago, when someone very close to me passed away, a stranger in a hospital waiting room told me something I’ll never forget. “They’re never lost if we know where they are,” she said.

Anyone who knew Doc knows where he is.


TAGS: Management
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